A federal court ruled this week that the Trump Administration cannot delay implementation of an Environmental Protection Agency rule requiring oil and gas companies to fix methane leaks from their equipment.
Methane is a greenhouse gas with a global warming potential 21 times that of carbon dioxide. The rule was developed under the Obama administration and intended to fight climate change.
Last month, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt sought to delay enforcement of the rule based on arguments that when the Obama Administration wrote it, there was insufficient time allowed for public comment. Pruitt’s decision came after various groups representing the oil and gas industry asked him to quash the regulation.
But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled Monday that the EPA could not delay implementation. In a 2-1 decision, the three-judge panel said that the EPA’s delay would violate the Clean Air Act.
Environmental groups celebrated the ruling. Tim Ballo, a staff attorney for the group Earthjustice, one of the groups that brought the suit against the EPA, said:
“This is a big win for public health and a wake-up call for this administration.”
Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, another of the plaintiffs in the case, said:
“The court’s decision ends the continued pollution by the oil and gas industry that’s been illegally allowed by Pruitt.”
David Doniger, director of the NRDC’s Climate and Clean Air Program, was equally laudatory. Speaking of Pruit, he said:
“This is the first court to rule and the first to strike him down.”
Doniger also suggested that other courts might follow suit on a number of similar cases in which the EPA has revoked regulations or sought to delay enforcement of certain rules. Speaking to the New York Times, Doniger said:
“This is the first of what we hope will be many court setbacks for Scott Pruitt, whose devotion to the law is rhetorical and not real.”
An EPA spokesperson said that agency was reviewing the court’s opinion and considering its options.
Featured image via YouTube.