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Federal Court Rules Against EPA Delay of Methane Rule

On Monday, a federal court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency cannot delay an Obama-era rule limiting methane pollution from the oil and gas industries.

EPA head Scott Pruitt halted the implementation of the rule in May, arguing that stakeholders did not have sufficient time to comment on parts of the final rule before it went into effect in August of 2016. Pruitt proposed a two-year delay to give the agency more time to evaluate the potential negative effects of the rule's requirements for oil and gas companies.

The court found that industry stakeholders had enough time to raise concerns about all the requirements included in the final rule. "The administrative record thus makes clear that industry groups had ample opportunity to comment on all four issues on which EPA granted reconsideration, and indeed, that in several instances the agency incorporated those comments directly into the final rule," the judges wrote. Therefore, the court concluded that the EPA "lacked authority" to stay the rule.

The decision marks another legal loss for the Trump administration, which has vowed to unravel many of former president Barack Obama's environmental regulations.