Sweetheart suits

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"By using stealth tactics to pursue a corporate agenda, the Bush administration is undermining the very landscape of democracy. The White House has also been darkly brilliant at using the courts to do its dirty work -- through methods suchas "sweetheart suits" the practice of encouraging states and private groups to file lawsuits against the federal government, and then agreeing to negotiated settlements that bypass environmental laws without any interference from Congress or the public. [1]

In perhaps the most egregious such case, in April [2003] the state of Utah and the Interior Department announced that they had reached a settlement involving 10 mm acres of federal lands set aside in the 1990s for possible wilderness designation. The deal will allow Utah to sell oil and gas rights on what had largely been pristine areas, including the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument with its multihued cliffs and Cedar Mesa, a fragile desert area near Monument Valley that holds world-renowned archaeological sites -- and that is now slated to host a jeep safari.