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article imageIn stunning defeat, EPA ordered to proceed with emissions rule

By Karen Graham     Jul 4, 2017 in Environment
Washington - In a win for the very air we breathe, a federal court reversed a move by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to suspend an Obama-era rule on methane emissions, concluding the EPA did not have the authority to suspend the rule.
In a two-to-one decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled on Monday that the EPA cannot suspend the 2016 rule. The 31-page decision disagreed with EPA chief Scott Pruitt's contention that industry groups had not been given enough time to comment before the rule was issued, according to Inhabitat.
The court said Pruitt's claim over corporations not having an opportunity to comment was bogus. “The administrative record thus makes clear that industry groups had ample opportunity to comment on [all] 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. 
The court also said that Pruitt lacked the legal authority to delay the rule from taking effect. But it's not like he didn't try. It's no secret that Pruitt, a climate change skeptic, has been meeting with oil and gas company heads since taking over the agency, and in recent months, he has moved repeatedly to block or delay environmental regulations opposed by those companies.
Last month, Pruitt decided to extend a 90-day moratorium on implementing the rule to two years, essentially dismissing any arguments over his authority to make the judgment that would effectively shelve the rule. Environmental groups took the EPA to court, urging the justices to block Pruitt's decision.
Greenhouse gas emissions are now the fastest-growing contributor to ecological overshoot  making up ...
Greenhouse gas emissions are now the fastest-growing contributor to ecological overshoot, making up 60 percent of humanity's demands on nature, says a report from Global Footprint Network
Darek Redos, AFP/File
Basically, the court's ruling is a reminder that although the Trump administration has made some progress in removing red tape, it is only because they can do so without the help of the Congress. But here's the clincher — Trump's arbitrary moves still face legal scrutiny.
Additionally, the federal court's ruling did say that the EPA does have the right to reverse the rule, but in order to do so, will have to go through a new rule-making process, and that could take several years. The agency can also take the matter to the Supreme Court. According to the Financial Times, an EPA spokesperson said: “We are reviewing the opinion and examining our options.”
“This ruling declares EPA’s action illegal — and slams the brakes on Trump Administration’s brazen efforts to put the interests of corporate polluters ahead of protecting the public and the environment,” said David Doniger, director of climate and clean air program for the Natural Resources Defense Council.
More about emissions rule, Epa, scott pruitt, actions illegal, Clean air act
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