Environmental Groups Cash In

Environmental groups are exploiting for profit a little known federal law meant to help average Joes take the government to court.

Millions of dollars in taxpayer money has gone to already wealthy environmental groups as a result of the law, according to Fox News, which reported that the government does not even track the payouts.

Fox reports:

Under the Equal Access to Justice Act, or EAJA — which was signed into law by President Carter in 1980 to help the little guy stand up to federal agencies — litigants with modest means who successfully show government agencies wronged them can get their legal fees back from the taxpayer.

But the act also covers 501(c)(3) nonprofits, including environmental groups that aggressively sue the feds to enforce land-use laws, the Clean Water and Clean Air acts and laws protecting endangered species. Their lawyers are getting reimbursed at rates as high as $750 an hour, sources tell FoxNews.com.

"It was intended for helping our nation's veterans, seniors and small business owners, but environmental groups have hijacked the so-called Equal Access to Justice Act and abused it to fund their own agenda," Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., told FoxNews.com. "Then you have small businesses and the American taxpayers left to foot the bill."