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EPA rescinds Trump rule expected to make air pollution regulation harder

EPA rescinds Trump rule expected to make air pollution regulation harder
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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is rescinding a Trump-era rule that was expected to make it harder to regulate air pollution, the agency announced on Thursday. 

The agency issued an interim rule to rescind the previous rule, stating that the changes made by the prior rule were “inadvisable, untethered to the [Clean Air Act], and not necessary to effectuate the purposes of the Act.”

Rescinding the Trump-era rule will allow the agency to use the pre-Trump process as it carries out its own regulations.

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“Revoking this unnecessary and misguided rule is proof positive of this Administration’s commitment to science,” said EPA Administrator Michael ReganMichael ReganOVERNIGHT ENERGY:  EPA announces new clean air advisors after firing Trump appointees |  Senate confirms Biden pick for No. 2 role at Interior | Watchdog: Bureau of Land Management saw messaging failures, understaffing during pandemic EPA announces new clean air advisors after firing Trump appointees EPA to reconsider Trump decision not to tighten soot air quality standards MORE in a statement. “We will continue to fix the wrongs of the past and move forward aggressively to deliver on President BidenJoe BidenObama: Ensuring democracy 'continues to work effectively' keeps me 'up at night' New Jersey landlords prohibited from asking potential tenants about criminal records Overnight Defense: Pentagon pulling some air defense assets from Middle East | Dems introduce resolution apologizing to LGBT community for discrimination | White House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine MORE’s clear commitment to protecting public health and the environment.”

The rule in question changed the way that the agency conducted cost-benefit analyses, technical pro-con lists used in rulemaking, used to justify the regulations they put forward. 

The changes made by the Trump administration included removing the consideration of benefits of reducing additional pollutants besides the one specifically targeted a regulation in the cost-benefit analysis, though it did allow these co-benefits to be included in a separate document. 

The Trump administration defended its changes when it issued the rule, billing it as a way to standardize the process. 

“Up to now there have been no regulations to hold us, the EPA, accountable to a standardized process and guarantee the public can now see how those calculations informed decisions,” then-EPA Administrator Andrew WheelerAndrew WheelerOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Haaland reportedly recommends full restoration of monuments Trump altered | EPA to reinstate air pollution panel disbanded under Trump | State appeals court upholds approval of Minnesota pipeline EPA to reinstate air pollution panel disbanded under Trump Overnight Energy: EPA to reconsider Trump decision not to tighten soot standards | Interior proposes withdrawal of Trump rule that would allow drillers to pay less | EPA reverses Trump guidance it said weakened 'forever chemicals' regulations MORE said at the time.

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But the Biden administration took issue with that approach and said in its interim rule Thursday that the Trump rule “codified certain practices that conflict with best science.”

Specifically, it said the portion that required the analyses to address certain outside factors that could potentially influence both cause and effect could have resulted in an “inferior” selection of health studies.

The American Lung Association praised the move on Thursday.

“Lives saved from reducing a certain pollutant as a result of steps taken to clean up another pollutant aren’t any less real or valuable. We thank EPA for taking this step to rescind this harmful rule," the group's president and CEO Harold Wimmer said in a statement.

Updated at 11:09 a.m.