scott pruitt
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt admits the climate is changing and human action contributes to the process. Carlos Barria/Reuters

The Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday night that it will no longer delay the implementation of 2015 ozone area designations created under former President Barack Obama. The decision came just a day after 15 states filed a lawsuit against the EPA citing the delay. The statement announcing the reversal makes no mention of the lawsuit other than a line that says, “We believe in dialogue with, and being responsive to, our state partners. Today’s action reinforces our commitment to working with the states through the complex designation process.”

In June the EPA announced the delay and said that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt had sent a letter to state governors informing them of the delay. The air pollution rule is formally known as the “ National Ambient Air Quality Standards” or NAAQS for ozone, according to the EPA.

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When the EPA originally delayed the designation deadline it said it did so to assist the states. “EPA is giving states more time to develop air quality plans and EPA is looking at providing greater flexibility to states as they develop their plans,” said the statement announcing the delay.

Attorney Generals from Minnesota, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Mexico and 11 other states filed the lawsuit against the EPA Tuesday over the delay. After a list of the states included it read that the states “hereby petition this Court for review of the final action of Respondents United States Environmental Protection Agency and Administrator Scott Pruitt extending the deadline for promulgating initial area designations for the 2015 ozone national ambient air quality standards.”

The area designations were due October 1 of this year, but the EPA pushed them to 2018. States were scheduled to submit proposals of which areas met current air quality standards under 70 parts per billion, which was 5 ppb lower than the previous standard. Those areas that don’t meet the standards face possible consequences of “increased regulatory burdens, restrictions on infrastructure investment, and increased costs to businesses,” said the EPA extension letter from June.

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The announcement Wednesday backtracked on June’s letter quoting Pruitt saying, “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.”

The reversal came just days comes after news broke that a top official at the EPA resigned because she did not agree with the direction the Trump Administration was taking the EPA. President Donald Trump and members within his administration including Administrator Pruitt have denied the effect of human activity on climate change, and President Trump even called global warming a “hoax.” Additionally, Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement in June.