The Trump administration will delay the implementation of a major Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) air pollution rule from the Obama administration.
The EPA announced the delay on the ozone pollution rule, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt notified governors this week.
“States have made tremendous progress and significant investment cleaning up the air. We will continue to work with states to ensure they are on a path to compliance,” Pruitt said in a statement.
“We are committed to working with states and local officials to effectively implement the ozone standard in a manner that is supportive of air quality improvement efforts without interfering with local decisions or impeding economic growth,” he added.
The EPA’s statement cited “increased regulatory burdens, restrictions on infrastructure investment, and increased cost to businesses.”
Pruitt stated that his decision to delay the air pollution rule relies on a stipulation in the Clean Air Act that would allow the agency to suspend rules up to a year if the agency has “insufficient information” to make compliance decisions.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, one of the leaders in the lawsuit challenging the rule, cheered Pruitt’s decision. Paxton said, “I am grateful for the leadership of EPA Administrator Pruitt in courageously pausing the costly and ineffective ozone rule, and I’m hopeful that the one year delay will provide time for the EPA to review the detrimental effects the ozone rule will have on the Texas economy.”
The 2015 Obama regulation set the allowable ozone level of pollution in the atmosphere to 70 parts per billion, down from the 75 parts per billion set in 2008.
Obama’s EPA predicted that the rule would result in billions of dollars in economic benefits through improvements in public health.
This attracted significant criticism. Industry officials argue that the rule would cost more than $1 trillion and questioned its potential health benefits.
EPA chief Pruitt said that the agency will undertake a review of the rule in response to Republican states and industry suing the Obama-era EPA. Pruitt himself was part of the lawsuit when he was Oklahoma’s attorney general.
Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) applauded the EPA’s rule delay and said that the agency protects the environment, instead of the previous administration’s heavy-handed approach. Flake said, “It’s great to see the EPA working with Arizonans for a change. Nowhere are the flaws of previous administration’s one-size-fits-all approach to regulating ozone more evident than in Arizona, a desert state where naturally-occurring ozone makes it impossible to meet the new federal mandate. While today’s move buys Arizona much-needed time, I remain committed to advancing a solution that will provide permanent relief from this egregious and unworkable rule.”