Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt and the Domestic Energy Producers Alliance on Monday filed a lawsuit against the federal government, accusing the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of “colluding” with environmental groups to bypass public rule-making procedures to enact endangered species regulations.
The lawsuit is Pruitt’s latest salvo against so-called “sue and settle” techniques, wherein agencies are accused of reaching friendly settlements of lawsuits filed by special-interest groups. Pruitt and Domestic Energy Partners — an Oklahoma-based group representing oil and gas companies and royalty owners — say those settlements amount to using the court system to cut state regulators and other interested parties out of the rule-making process. Pruitt has made similar allegations against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over energy and environmental regulations.
The lawsuit stems from a settlement reached in a 2010 lawsuit by Wild Earth Guardians, “which alleged the Fish and Wildlife Service did not meet deadlines in determining the listing of 251 species,” The Oklahoman‘s Jay Marks reports.
That lawsuit resulted in a consent decree that accelerated the determination process of those species, including the lesser prairie chicken.
The federal agencies’ settlements, Pruitt argues, would undermine a $26 million conservation plan the “State of Oklahoma, along with other states and private industry” were considering for the Lesser Prairie Chicken.
“Oklahoma has indicated its willingness to protect the lesser prairie chicken but it seems increasingly clear this issue isn’t about sound science or saving endangered species. Using the courts to impose regulations undermines the rule of law,” Pruitt said in a statement.