Restoring balance to environmental litigation is vital to America’s farmers and ranchers, who embrace an ethic of resource conservation while producing food and fiber. But they are frustrated by inequity and lack of transparency in environmental activist groups’ misuse of litigation fee-shifting laws, according to AFBF.
Testifying last week before a congressional subcommittee, AFBF Director of Congressional Relations Ryan Yates said the need for oversight and reform regarding environmental litigation cannot be overstated. Yates told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’s Subcommittee on the Interior, Energy and Environment that a review of how environmental organizations take advantage of the legal system is ripe for timely review. Yates said the misuse of federal fee-shifting statutes by environmental groups has had harmful consequences that Congress never intended.
Yates said the Equal Access to Justice Act and other fee-shifting statutes were intended to rebalance the scales and restore equity to the “David-vs-Goliath” task individuals and small businesses and organizations face when suing the federal government. However, he told members of Congress that this principle has been abused in a way that greatly surpasses the measure’s intent of protecting individual rights when holding government accountable.