Associated Press in Washington
Thursday 3 August 2017 15.12 BST
One day after getting sued by 15 states, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief, Scott Pruitt, reversed his decision to delay implementation of Obama-era rules reducing emissions of smog-causing air pollutants.
Pruitt presented the change as his agency being more responsive than past administrations to the needs of state environmental regulators. He made no mention of the legal challenge filed against his prior position in a federal appeals court.
At issue is a 1 October deadline for states to begin meeting 2015 standards for ground-level ozone. Pruitt announced in June he would delay compliance by one year to give his agency more time to study the plan and avoid “interfering with local decisions or impeding economic growth”.
Pruitt, who was Oklahoma’s attorney general prior to his appointment by Donald Trump, has long been an opponent of stricter environmental regulations. Since arriving in Washington, he has repeatedly moved to block or delay regulations opposed by the chemical and fossil-fuel industries.
Wednesday’s sudden reversal was the latest legal setback for Pruitt’s regulatory rollback agenda. Last month, a federal appeals court in Washington ruled that the EPA administrator had overstepped his authority in trying to delay implementation of an Obama administration rule requiring oil and gas companies to monitor and reduce methane leaks.