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EPA asks court to let it delay Obama air pollution rule

EPA asks court to let it delay Obama air pollution rule
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The Trump administration asked a federal appeals court Friday to allow it to delay enforcement of an Obama administration rule to limit methane pollution from oil and natural gas drilling.

Justice Department lawyers representing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) objected to the Monday ruling from the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that mandated that the EPA immediately enforce the methane regulation, which the Trump administration had tried to delay so that it could go through a full repeal process.

In their Friday motion to the court, the attorneys said the circuit court would normally hold off on enforcing its ruling for 52 days, to allow the Justice Department to decide whether it would appeal the ruling.

“By taking the unusual step of directing that the mandate issue forthwith, the court required immediate compliance with its decision (and, therefore, compliance with the full scope of the 2016 rule, including those provisions that are being reconsidered), notwithstanding that EPA and regulated parties would ordinarily be provided with 52 days, or longer, before compliance was required,” the attorneys wrote.

Such a delay by the court would allow the EPA to once again hold off on enforcing the standards on the oil and gas industry.

In a two-to-one ruling Monday, the three-judge panel of the court found that the EPA did not have the authority to delay compliance with key parts of the methane rule for 90 days, as it tried to do last month.

To justify its delay, the EPA cited claims by the oil industry that industry groups were not given proper opportunity to comment on the rule itself last year.

The judges said that the EPA is allowed to reconsider the regulation on those grounds, but not to delay its enforcement.