A federal court of appeals has ruled that Scott Pruitt, the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency, acted outside his authority by trying to delay the implementation of an Obama-era measure set to monitor and reduce methane leaks which make global warming worse and lower revenues for the oil and gas industry, the Washington Post reports.
The measure being put into place aims to reduce harmful emissions from oil and gas companies. Scientific American explains that though the U.S. releases more CO2 than methane, the latter "has 25 times more warming potential per pound across a 100-year period."
Pruitt argued that these industries did not have an adequate opportunity to comment before the 2016 rule was made. The court disagreed with his assertion, saying that Pruitt did not have the legal authority to issue such a delay.
"This ruling declares EPA's action illegal — and slams the brakes on Trump Administration's brazen efforts to put the interests of corporate polluters ahead of protecting the public and the environment," said David Doniger, Director of Climate and Clean Air Program for the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Pruitt, who is a climate change denier, was confirmed by the Senate as the new head of the EPA in February. Prior to his appointment, Pruitt was in close alignment with Oklahoma's oil, gas, and fossil fuel industries. In the past, he has worked with companies to file multiple lawsuits against major EPA regulations. Pruitt announced in April that he would delay the deadline for implementing the rule by 90 days so that the agency charged with regulating the environment could reconsider the measure.
Multiple industry groups, including The American Petroleum Institute and the Texas Oil and Gas Association, have been petitioning for Pruitt to get rid of the requirement, originally set to take place in June, all together. Last month, he announced his intention to turn that 90 day delay into a two year stay. It was then that six environmental groups worked together to officially oppose the delay in court.
According to CBS, EPA spokeswoman Amy Graham said the agency was reviewing the court's opinion and examining its options. The EPA could seek to appeal the decision in the Supreme Court.