A Federal Court’s Major Decision Just Dealt a Huge Defeat to the Trump EPA

Like many of Trump’s appointments, Scott Pruitt’s position at the EPA raised eyebrows. Pruitt, former Oklahoma attorney general, had made a name for himself suing the EPA. He also maintained close ties to oil & gas lobbyists. Prior to becoming its administrator, Mr. Pruitt had said that he thought the EPA needed to be cut, both in terms of its size and its authority. He is generally thought to have been chosen as EPA Administrator in order to act as Trump’s proxy saboteur.

Scott Pruitt informed oil and gas industry leaders in April that the agency was reconsidering methane emissions rules. Specifically, those which required oil and gas companies to identify and fix equipment leaks and placed a 90-day pause on certain core requirements for companies under the regulations.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt speaks with coal miners at the Harvey Mine on April 13 in Sycamore, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Merriman/Getty Images)

Then in June, the EPA announced a formal two-year freeze of the regulations in order for the agency to look broadly at the rules, gather public comment, and then issue a final action on the specific requirements. But in a 2-1 decision handed down July 3rd from the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, the court concluded that Mr. Pruitt lacked the authority to halt implementation of the regulations.

The Environmental Protection Agency is now weighing its options since it has been blocked from delaying implementation of the Obama-era methane regulations. This is a major victory for groups fighting against the rollback of environmental rules under the Trump administration.

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