The EPA just delayed 30 environmental regulations created under Obama -- here's what that means

Scott PruittC-SPANScott Pruitt, Trump’s pick to lead the EPA

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published paperwork Wednesday to delay 30 environmental regulations created under Obama until March 21.

All 30 regulations were written into the Federal Register before President Trump took office, and were due to go into effect before March 21. (Writing a regulation into the federal register is a step on the way to making it enforceable.)

The new paperwork, which will also be written into the federal register, updates that schedule, citing Trump’s freeze on all new regulations.

The delay will offer the Trump administration the opportunity to review all 30 regulations, and potentially to take action to block some (or all) of them.

One impact of the delay could be an immediate change to US greenhouse gas emissions policy. The renewable fuel standard, a rule designed to curb greenhouse gases and support renewable fuels, is among the 30 delayed regulations.

Typically, any new rule in the Federal Register requires a period of public notice and comment — which would apply to the new delay on existing rules. But the EPA cites an exemption for “good cause” in the federal rulemaking procedures. So the delay will happen without public comment.

There have been instances where “good cause” exemptions have been successfully fought in court. In 2004, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated a Department of Energy (DOE) rule delay that cited the “good cause” exemption. The DOE wanted more time to review its fuel efficiency standard without public comment, but the court ruled that “an emergency of DOE’s own making” doesn’t count as “good cause.”

The delay of these 30 regulations is a rare sign of life from an EPA that has largely gone dark and frozen under the Trump administration, and may no longer be doing science or even sharing climate data with scientists.

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