A federal appeals court ruled Monday that the head of the Environmental Protection Agency overstepped his authority in trying to delay implementation of an Obama administration rule requiring oil and gas companies to monitor and reduce methane leaks. In a split decision, the three-judge panel from the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ordered the EPA to move forward with a new requirement that aims to reduce planet-warming emissions from oil and gas operation, the AP reports. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced in April that he would delay by 90 days the deadline for oil and gas companies to follow the new rule, so that the agency could reconsider the measure.
The American Petroleum Institute and other industry groups petitioned Pruitt to scrap the requirement, which had been set to take effect in June. Last month, Pruitt announced he intended to extend the 90-day stay for two years. A coalition of environmental groups opposed the delay in court. "This ruling declares the EPA's action illegal—and slams the brakes on the Trump administration's brazen efforts to put the interests of corporate polluters ahead of protecting the public and the environment," said David Doniger of the Natural Resources Defense Council. EPA spokeswoman Amy Graham said the agency was reviewing the court's opinion and examining its options. (Read more EPA stories.)