EPA must enforce Obama-era methane pollution rule, court rules

Aug. 1 (UPI) — A federal court has ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to enforce a methane pollution regulation imposed by former President Barack Obama‘s administration and challenged by President Donald Trump.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia issued the ruling Monday, after a three-judge panel of the court originally ruled last month that the EPA unlawfully delayed implementing the rule.

The ruling Monday came after the court gave the EPA a two-week reprieve from its decision last month. Even with the reprieve, the Trump administration hasn’t asked the full 11-judge court to rehear the case — which is standard practice when appealing a ruling from a three-judge panel.

In its July ruling, the court said the EPA broke the law when it attempted to stall enforcement of the Obama-era rule requiring limits on methane emissions in the oil and natural gas drilling industry — and requirements that companies identify and repair methane leaks.

The agency sought a two-year pause in the new rules to examine their impact.

The court’s ruling Monday is largely seen as a victory for environmentalists, and a signal that the Trump administration may find its plans for widespread regulation rollbacks difficult.

The methane rule sets standards to reduce emissions of the gas — a greenhouse gas — and was a major part of Obama’s climate change agenda.


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