A federal appeals court is forcing the Environmental Protection Agency to impose a chemical safety rule the Trump administration attempted to delay.
The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit granted a motion Friday night to force the EPA to enforce the risk management plan rule, a regulation passed during the Obama administration.
“Because EPA has not engaged in reasoned decision-making, its promulgation of the delay rule is arbitrary and capricious,” the court wrote, noting the agency’s delay tactic “makes a mockery of the statute.”
The same court issued a similar ruling in August after activists asked the judges to skip the traditional 52-day waiting period to enforce its Aug. 31 ruling, which held that the Trump administration improperly delayed the regulation.
Judges eventually reversed the order, saying it had been made “inadvertently.” Judges Judith Rogers and Robert Wilkins never explained their reasoning. Friday’s ruling effectively implements the court’s order from August.
Usually courts allow 52 days for the EPA to consider appealing the order, which would have put it on Oct. 8. Activists and attorneys general involved in the litigation wanted the court to skip the wait period based on what they call the immediate danger associated with holding up the rule. (RELATED: 9th Circuit Court Forces EPA To Enforce Obama-Era Pesticide Ban)
Imposing the rule requires “coordination between thousands of regulated parties and the local governments and emergency response entities in their specific locations, many of which require … guidance and clarity regarding their role and obligations in the coordination process,” the agency wrote in a statement.
A waiting period “allows the agency a short but reasonable time to assess these issues and concerns,” the agency added.
The Trump administration delayed implementing it while it reconsidered major aspects of the rule, which was initially due to take effect in March 2017. The EPA proposed a complete rollback of the rule but that has not been made final.
The Aug. 31 ruling came after the U.S. District Court in South Carolina ordered the EPA on Aug. 16 to reinstate the Waters of the United States rule after the agency tried to delay it under former Administrator Scott Pruitt.
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