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Tipton Votes to Increase Transparency, Curtail Legal Abuse at Taxpayer Expense

February 7, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON D.C. – Today, Congressmen Scott Tipton (CO-03) voted to pass bipartisan legislation to increase transparency and oversight of funds paid out under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA). The Open Book on Equal Access to Justice Act (H.R.752) passed the House with a unanimous vote.

“This long-awaited bipartisan bill will require a detailed accounting in a searchable database of how much, where and why funds are being paid out under the Equal Access to Justice Act,” said Tipton. “Increased transparency and oversight will shine the light on the frequent abuses of the EAJA by a handful of radical groups. It will provide Congress and the American people with the information necessary to create a roadmap for reform, so steps can be taken to ensure the integrity of the EAJA for those who truly need it, while eliminating abuse.”

Originally passed in 1980, the intent of the Equal Access to Justice Act was to provide a level playing field for individual citizens to pursue claims against the federal government by allowing plaintiffs to recoup legal fees. In recent decades, the EAJA has been abused by a small number of radical environmental groups who, by exploiting a loophole in the original law, repeatedly sue the federal government, often without merit, to disrupt or delay land management plans and actions.

In Colorado and in many western states, a small number of radical groups have filed hundreds of lawsuits based on philosophical disagreements with federal land management decisions. In addition to costing taxpayers millions of dollars, the consequences of this legal abuse by radical groups under EAJA have had broad implications for proactive forest management, often delaying critical wildfire prevention and forest management and post-fire restoration efforts, causing harm to ecosystems and communities.