WASHINGTON — Dealing a legal blow to the Trump administration, a federal appeals court ruled on Monday that the Environmental Protection Agency cannot suspend an Obama-era rule to restrict methane emissions from new oil and gas wells.
The 2-to-1 decision from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is a legal setback for Scott Pruitt, the E.P.A. administrator, who is trying to roll back dozens of Obama-era environmental regulations. The ruling signals that the Trump administration’s efforts to simply delay environmental and public health actions are likely to face an uphill battle in the courts and require a more painstaking process.
The administration had suffered several reversals in federal court to its plans to limit immigration from a group of majority-Muslim nations until the Supreme Court allowed part of the policy to proceed late last month. A federal judge in California also blocked the administration’s threat to penalize cities that provide legal sanctuary for undocumented immigrants.
A number of other Trump administration actions to undo regulations it inherited, including a rule on grizzly bear protection and another on chemical spills, are likely to receive close scrutiny from the courts.