Court Rejects EPA Administrator Pruitt’s Request for 52 Days to Comply with Ruling on Oil and Gas Pollution Protections

On  July 13th, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit rejected EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s request for a 52-day or longer extension to comply with its opinion from earlier this month. That July 3rd opinion that held Administrator Pruitt’s suspension of pollution limits for the oil and gas industry was “unlawful,” “arbitrary,” and “capricious.”

The order leaves in place the court’s opinion vacating Administrator Pruitt’s unlawful suspension of those clean air protections. The order provides for a limited 14-day period before the court’s ruling will take effect.

In its order, the court emphasizes the limited nature of this 14-day extension for its ruling to take effect:

“To stay issuance of the mandate for longer would hand the agency, in all practical effect, the very delay in implementation this panel determined to be ‘arbitrary, capricious, [and] … in excess of [EPA’s] statutory … authority.’”

The critical clean air protections at stake will reduce harmful methane and smog-forming, toxic and carcinogenic air pollution from new and modified sources in the oil and gas industry.

“The court reaffirmed the importance of ensuring that its decision vacating Administrator Pruitt’s unlawful suspension of these clean air protections limiting oil and gas pollution swiftly take effect,” said EDF Lead Attorney Peter Zalzal. “These critical protections will deliver much needed pollution reductions to American communities and families. Today’s order emphasizes the core finding of the July 3rd opinion that EPA’s delay was unlawful, and recognizes the urgency of implementing these clean air safeguards.”

On July 3rd, the D.C. Circuit held that Administrator Pruitt violated the law by imposing a 90-day stay on vital standards that keep pollution from the oil and gas industry out of the air we breathe. At the same time, the court also issued a mandate that put its opinion into effect immediately, ensuring that the clean air standards deliver pollution reductions as long planned.

Previously, Administrator Pruitt filed a motion to recall the mandate – seeking at least an additional 52 days to comply with the court’s decision. EDF and its allies filed a forceful response opposing that motion. A coalition of 15 states and cities also filed a response opposing Administrator Pruitt’s request.

The court recalled the mandate for a limited, 14-day period to allow EPA to evaluate whether it wants to seek further judicial review of the court’s decision. Under the terms of the order, the mandate will now issue on July 27th, making the court’s ruling effective on that day.

In a separate action, Administrator Pruitt is also proposing to suspend these same protections for two years. At a public hearing about that proposal on July 10th, American from across the nation voiced their strong support for these clean air protections.

EPA is now accepting public comment on that proposal. All Americans can send comments to EPA through August 9th.

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