An appeals court in Washington, D.C., has blocked an attempt by the Environmental Protection Agency to delay Obama-era methane regulations, rejecting claims by the EPA that the oil and gas industry wasn't allowed to comment on the rules.
The agency could choose to rewrite the rules, but it overstepped in trying to delay them for years, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit decided.
The regulations in question are designed to prevent leaks at oil and gas facilities. Methane, which is released in natural gas leaks, is a potent greenhouse gas, contributing to global warming; other leaked substances are harmful for human health.
During the Obama administration, the EPA crafted new rules, and the first deadlines for reporting and compliance were set for this summer. But then the Trump administration announced a temporary stay on the rules — first for 90 days, then for two years.
Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the EPA, has expressed doubt over fundamental facts about climate change, like the central role that greenhouse gas emissions play in global warming. Before being confirmed, he promised to aggressively roll back regulations at the agency, and observers say he's been effective in fulfilling that promise.