Environmentalists take EPA, Interior Department to task

Remember when U.S. agencies used to be able to get away with their nefarious eco-deeds? Like, for the last seven years or so? The times might just be changing. Deed one: the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management decided, after 20 years, to reactivate 23 drilling leases in areas of Utah that have since been protected, including Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Smackdown: three green groups, not buying BLM’s explanation that it was merely correcting a failure to decide on the leases in the 1980s, filed suit today. Deed two: the Environmental Protection Agency set emissions standards for brick and ceramics plants without bothering to heed the Clean Air Act or a court’s instructions to do so. Smackdown: a federal appeals court ordered the EPA to obey the Clean Air Act and take any objections up with Congress. “This decision is not just about brick kilns,” said lawyer James Pew. “It is about an agency that thinks it is above the law.”