Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Study: Forest Service Paid $6.1M in Groups' Legal Fees Over 6 Years

The Forest Service paid $6.1 million in legal fees to groups that sued it over a six-year period, according to an academic study that casts new light on a politically charged issue. At issue is the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA), which requires the federal government to pay attorneys fees when it loses cases under statutes that do not specifically call for such fees to be paid by the government. Some Republican lawmakers argue that environmental groups have taken advantage of a lack of oversight on such payments and file numerous lawsuits they know they can win on procedural grounds. Recently introduced legislation (pdf), the "Government Litigation Savings Act," would amend the statute. The measure's lead sponsors are two Wyoming Republicans, Sen. John Barrasso and Rep. Cynthia Lummis (E&ENews PM, May 25). The new report (pdf) -- published in the latest issue of the Society of American Foresters' Journal of Forestry -- includes data from the Forest Service and Justice Department obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests. The payments cover the period 1999 to 2005...more

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