EPA Backtracks on Clean Air Rules One Day After States Sue
One day after getting sued by 15 states, Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt reversed his earlier decision to delay implementation of Obama-era rules reducing emissions of smog-causing air pollutants.
Pruitt presented the change as his agency being more responsive than past administrations to the needs of state environmental regulators. He made no mention of the legal challenge filed against his prior position in a federal appeals court.
At issue is an Oct. 1 deadline for states to begin meeting 2015 standards for ground-level ozone. Pruitt announced in June he would delay compliance by one year to give his agency more time to study the plan and avoid “interfering with local decisions or impeding economic growth.”
Pruitt, who was Oklahoma’s state attorney general prior to his appointment by President Donald Trump, has long served as a reliable opponent of stricter environmental regulations. Since arriving in Washington, Pruitt has repeatedly moved to block or delay regulations opposed by the chemical and fossil-fuel industries.
Wednesday’s sudden reversal is the latest legal setback for Pruitt’s regulatory rollback agenda. Last month, a federal appeals court in Washington ruled the EPA administrator overstepped his authority in trying to delay implementation of an Obama administration rule requiring oil and gas companies to monitor and reduce methane leaks.