WASHINGTON — The Trump administration said late Wednesday that it would not delay an Obama-era regulation on smog-forming pollutants from smokestacks and tailpipes, a move that environmental groups hailed as a victory.
The Environmental Protection Agency decision came a day after 16 state attorneys general, all Democrats, filed a lawsuit challenging the delay with the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. It reversed a decision Scott Pruitt, the E.P.A. administrator, made in June to put off an Oct. 1 deadline for designating which areas of the country met new ozone standards.
In announcing the ozone policy change, the agency appeared to leave the door open to extending the deadline again. But, officials said, the agency will work with states to help them deliver the needed information.
“Under previous administrations, E.P.A. would often fail to meet designation deadlines, and then wait to be sued by activist groups and others, agreeing in a settlement to set schedules for designation,” Mr. Pruitt said in a statement. “We do not believe in regulation through litigation, and we take deadlines seriously. We also take the statute and the authority it gives us seriously.”
Ozone, a smog-causing gas that is formed when chemical emissions from power plants, factories and cars are exposed to heat and sunlight, has been linked to childhood asthma, lower infant birth weights and lung disease.
Environmental advocates welcomed the agency’s policy shift on ozone but said they would continue to insist on vigorous enforcement of pollution laws.
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