In a strong victory for environmentalists and the United States, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt reversed the decision to delay an Obama-era ozone pollution regulation.
The EPA announced the decision on Wednesday along with a statement in which Pruitt stated, “We believe in dialogue with, and being responsive to, our state partners. Today’s action reinforces our commitment to working with the states through the complex designation process.”
The decision comes after 15 states and the District of Columbia sued the EPA, claiming that the delay exceeded the agency’s authority under the Clean Air Act.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D-NY), who led the lawsuit, remained positive but vigilant, saying “Our coalition of attorneys general will continue to take the legal action necessary to protect the people we serve – including making sure the EPA finalizes the designations by October 1, as required by the Clean Air Act.”
Earthjustice, who also sued the EPA last month over the delay, celebrated the victory:
“The EPA’s hasty retreat shows that public health and environmental organizations and 16 states across the country were right: the agency had no legal basis for delaying implementation of the 2015 smog standard,” said Seth Johnson, an attorney with the group. “Implementing the safer 2015 smog standard will mean cleaner air and healthier people, particularly for those most vulnerable to ozone, like children, people with asthma and the elderly.”
The decision, announced by Pruitt in June, was supposed to delay the new rule that lowered the amount of ground-level ozone (which is linked to respiratory ailments) to 70 parts per billion, by one year. Now the rule will go into effect as planned on October 1.