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Another Setback for the EPA's Regulatory Rollbacks

Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt has abandoned attempts to delay the implementation of an Obama-era rule to limit emissions of smog-producing pollutants just one day after several states sued the agency.

Fifteen states and the District of Columbia argued that Pruitt's proposed one-year delay of the 2015 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards, first announced in June, would violate the Clean Air Act. (Environmental and public-health groups filed their own lawsuit against the agency shortly after the announcement.) In a statement released on Wednesday, Pruitt suggested that his decision to reverse course reflects his willingness to work more closely with state regulators than previous administrations.

"We believe in dialogue with, and being responsive to, our state partners," Pruitt said. Though he made no mention of the lawsuit in particular, environmental activists and the state attorneys general believe their actions played a role in Pruitt's decision.

"Their [President Donald Trump and Pruitt's] attempt to delay these clean air protections was legally and morally wrong, and the wide array of health and community voices that challenged their decision made that clear," the Sierra Club's Mary Anne Hitt said in a statement. "The Sierra Club was one of the many groups that challenged this illegal action in court, and we stand ready for the next time Trump and Pruitt attempt to give away our clean air and water protections to polluters."

In another setback for the agency earlier this week, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit struck down the EPA's attempt to delay the implementation of methane limits for the oil and gas sector.