An interesting week in Washington.
On one hand, the Equal Access to Justice Act is bad (because it rectifies environmental injustices) and on the other, it's good and should apply more widely (to ranchers). Uh... what?
The first bill, a.k.a. "Destroy the Land by Defunding its Advocates Act" would limit the number of payments any organization can receive under EAJA, because the elected representatives have been led to believe (falsely) that enviro groups are getting rich- Rich! I tell ya!- on attorneys fees granted to citizens when we have to sue the government to make them comply with the law. That's a real headscratcher, we know. But people like Karen Budd-Falen have been making wild and unsupported claims about the pirate booty conservation organizations bring in, and apparently, she's gotten the ear of some congressional representatives. She's also gotten the attention of the Government Accountability Office, who will soon be refuting her claims with actual data. Stay tuned.
The second bill, a.k.a. "We'll Always Find A Way for Rancher Welfare Act" is a special little porky bill designed especially to pay two ranchers in Idaho who had to fight the BLM for their water rights. Because the water rights case was heard in state court, the EAJA didn't apply to them. Luckily, they've got friends in high places who will write special little bills to ensure they get their attorneys fees covered. Must be nice.
P.S.: If any of you rich environmental attorneys want to buy us a congressperson, do feel free to contact us via email. We'd like to spruce up our legislative wardrobe.