Late Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency announced it was no longer delaying a 2015 regulation on ozone, a gas formed from smokestacks and tailpipes that causes smog and has been linked to lung disease and asthma in children.
The Obama administration had set a national standard for ozone of 70 parts per billion, and in June, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt put off the Oct. 1 deadline for deciding which areas of the country needed to meet new ozone standards, The New York Times reports; Pruitt wanted to delay the requirement that states submit measurements of their 2015 ozone levels, saying the EPA needed to evaluate a "host of complex issues" before deciding which states met the standard. The EPA reversed course after 16 Democratic state attorneys general filed a lawsuit earlier this week, challenging the delay.
Environmental groups were pleased with the decision. "Pruitt's lawless attempt to delay stronger ozone-pollution protections would have put thousands of lives at risk," Lori Ann Burd, director of the environmental program at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. "It's disturbing how much pressure it took to get this common-sense step from the guy in charge of protecting the air we breathe."