Paul Bedard of the Washington Examiner tallies taxpayer benefits tied to ending a controversial practice of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

A practice known as “sue and settle” used by the Environmental Protection Agency to enact controversial regulations cost taxpayers $69 billion since 2005 and has an annual cost of $26 billion, according to a new report.

The American Action Forum found that “sue and settle,” killed this month by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, also dumped millions of hours of red tape on industries.

Pruitt ended the practice last week. During the Bush and Obama years, it was used by government activists and outside influence groups to force through new and costly regulations without the normal transparency required when rules are properly developed.

“Here’s how it works,” said Dan Bosch, the director of regulatory policy at AAF. “An interest group sues a federal agency alleging that the agency has not fulfilled its responsibility under the law. Rather than contest the lawsuit, the agency settles and enters into an agreement to initiate and/or expedite a rulemaking, complete with a legally binding deadline to promulgate.”

He looked at the most expensive 23 regulations that went through the backdoor process and put a price tag of $68.9 billion on them. They also have $26.5 billion in annual costs. And, he added, “16 of these rules imposed a paperwork burden of more than eight million hours.”