The regulatory rollback continues in Washington, and the latest victories come not a moment too soon for many American businesses. Two actions by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt will help rein in Obama-era environmental rules that had hovered ominously over key U.S. industries, such as energy, for far too long.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce applauded Administrator Pruitt’s announcement that he would end the so-called sue and settle scheme, which allowed special interest groups to sue EPA in an attempt to force it to take action on their pet issues. Instead of fighting these lawsuits in the courts, EPA usually settled behind closed doors, allowing outside advocacy groups to take control of the agency’s regulatory priorities. Activist organizations successfully used this tactic over a hundred times to force certain outcomes without any public oversight or involvement.
While Administrator Pruitt’s executive action immediately halts the sue and settle gambit, it’s important that Congress also takes legislative action. Otherwise, future administrations could easily revive this abusive practice. That’s why the Chamber has long pushed the Sunshine for Regulations and Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act, which would help Congress reassert its control over federal regulatory actions. The House passed the bill last month, and the Chamber encourages the Senate to quickly follow suit.
In another welcome move, Administrator Pruitt announced a proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan (CPP), which would have raised the cost of energy without regard to the impact on families and businesses. The Chamber fought back against the rule for years, including leading a lawsuit along with 28 states and 160 petitioners that resulted in the Supreme Court granting an unprecedented stay to block its implementation.
Now that outright repeal is on the table, we stand ready to work with EPA and all stakeholders to come up with a durable and effective approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Through private sector-led innovation, technology, and ingenuity, America’s energy innovators can make all energy sources cleaner and more affordable.
These latest actions have been met with a sigh of relief from businesses large and small, and so have many other deregulatory efforts from the administration this year. The Chamber has long fought against harmful rules—and in favor of smart, balanced rules—for the simple reason that a heavy-handed regulatory approach fuels uncertainty, stalls hiring, and chokes growth. Now that the government is starting to get out of the way, businesses can focus on what they do best—creating jobs and growing the economy.