The Trump administration cannot block an Obama-era rule restricting methane leaks from oil and gas wells, a federal appeals court ruled Monday.

In a 2-1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has overstepped its authority in attempting to suspend the rule's implementation for two years, and that the agency must follow a new rulemaking process to fully undo the regulations.


The decision may foreshadow upcoming legal challenges to environmental regulations the Trump administration is seeking to delay or roll back.

As Reuters reported:

"This is a big win for public health and a wake-up call for this administration," said Tim Ballo, a staff attorney for the group Earthjustice, one of the groups participating in the case.

David Doniger, director of the Natural Resource Defense Council's Climate and Clean Air Program, said other courts could follow suit on pending challenges to Pruitt's suspensions of a slew of EPA rules, including those governing methane leakage from landfills and protections from chemical accidents and pesticides.

"This is the first court to rule and the first to strike him down," he said.

For a deeper dive:

New York Times, AP, WSJ, Reuters, Washington Post, Bloomberg, FT, Time, PBS NewsHour, Marketplace. Commentary: Houston Chronicle, Ben Ratner op-ed

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