Oklahoma Attorney General Fights 'Sue-and-Settle' Tactic and Possible Misleading Ads by HSUSWed, 16 Apr 2014 16:26:32 CDT
One of the tactics being used by environmental groups to force additional government regulations on farmers and ranchers is known as “sue and settle.” Using this tactic, the groups sue government agencies and then pursue settlements with them which force the agencies to interpret rules in a manner which favors the environmental groups over landowners.
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has been in the vanguard of attorneys general fighting this tactic. He spoke recently with Ron Hays, Radio Oklahoma Network farm director, at Farm City Week at the state capitol. (You can hear the full interview by clicking on the LISTEN BAR at the bottom of this story.) Pruitt said it is time for action to put a stop to this process.
“We recently sued the Fish and Wildlife Service in Tulsa, in federal court there. Oklahoma Farm Bureau is a plaintiff there. Other states have joined-North Dakota and Kansas among others-that have intervened. And the lawsuit is about the listing of the Lesser Prairie Chicken as a threatened species. And it flows out of a settlement that Fish and Wildlife agreed to in 2011 that is entirely inconsistent with the statute. They have actually used the settlement process to regulate through litigation and not go through proper rule making. It’s a huge case, a very important case. I just loved it. I am thankful for Oklahoma Farm Bureau’s partnership. We believe it is a pinnacle case for other states across the country to look at the abusive practices agencies are engaging in as far as these friendly lawsuits with environmental groups to regulate.”
Pruitt said the state has already spent $26 million dollars in efforts with landowners to conserve the Lesser Prairie Chicken and keep it off the endangered species list. He said the Fish and Wildlife Service has totally ignored those efforts and because of that landowners will be saddled with greater burdens if the courts do not rein in the “sue and settle” juggernaut.
Another issue the attorney general’s office has tackled recently is the contention by some Oklahoma residents that the Human Society of the United States is using unfair and deceptive advertising practices to raise funds.
“Here we have an organization that we know, or we believe, nationally, only spends about one percent of the revenue that they raise on local shelters, but, yet they go into communities all over the country-and they did so in Oklahoma after the Moor tornadoes-raising money under the auspices that local shelters were going to be benefitting. To me, that’s a very relevant question for them to answer: ‘Did you come into the state of Oklahoma to raise money for the benefit of local shelters and did you spend it on the actual local shelters. And if they didn’t, what did they spend it on? Is it lobbying activity? Media campaigns that relate to a mission and purpose that’s different than local shelters? So that’s why we made the inquiry.”
Pruitt said his office is still investigating and they are trying to determine if, in fact, the HSUS has defrauded or misled the public in its fundraising efforts. Pruitt said he will file the necessary charges if their suspicions are confirmed.
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