The courts, for example, found that the E.P.A. had ignored clear legal laws when it ruled that Mr. Pruitt had illegally delayed a regulation that limited methane emissions from new oil and gas wells and that the agency had violated the law by losing a deadline last year to enact restrictions to ozone.
cases, including one in which a federal court ordered the EPA to act on a Connecticut request to reduce contamination of a Pennsylvania plant, and where the judges demanded speedy action by the agency on new standards of lead paint: the courts warned Mr. Pruitt that avoiding the enactment of regulations already published was an inappropriate effort to repeal a rule without justifying the action.
"The EPA has a clear duty to act," a panel of judges from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals based in San Francisco wrote in a 2-1 decision that determined the agency should revise its lead paint standards in 90 days, as required by regulations. The agency had tried to delay the reviews for six years.
In an interview on Friday, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Mr. Trump felt that Mr. Pruitt had done a satisfactory job at the EPA. His comments suggested that Mr. Pruitt's work checking items on the president's agenda – including the removal of a large number of environmental protections – may weigh heavily as a counterweight to the ethical issues related to his travel expenses, administrative practices and the rent a living space from the wife of a prominent lobbyist.
Describing Mr. Trump's opinion of Mr. Pruitt, he said: "He likes the product of work."
Liz Bowman, an EPA spokeswoman, questioned criticism of the agency's work. "EPA does its due diligence, consulting with OMB and other federal agencies to ensure that their work is legally defensible," he said in an email, referring to the Office of Management and Budget, the office that coordinates and evaluates policies in the branch. executive
One of the main examples cited by Mr. Pruitt's critics came this week when the EPA filed its legal justification for what is undoubtedly the biggest setback of an environmental rule in the Trump administration: the proposal to get rid of a regulation of the Obama era aimed at reducing the pollution of the greenhouse gases that heat the planet from the exhaust pipes of vehicles.
Pruitt presented his case for the reversal in a 38-page document submitted on Tuesday that, according to experts, lacked the kind of legal, scientific and technical support data that courts have shown they hope to see when considering the challenges to the regulatory changes. 19659009] Continue reading the main story
"There is an incredible lack of numbers," said James McCargar, a former senior policy badyst at E.P.A. who worked in vehicle emission programs and stays in close contact with the career employees who work in those programs. "If this is challenged in court, I just do not see how they provide something that provides a technical justification for undoing the rule."
The rules pursued by Pruitt would require automakers to almost double the average fuel economy of pbadenger vehicles to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. Automakers have argued that the rule is costly, forcing them to invest heavily in building hybrid and electric vehicles.
As part of the process, Mr. Pruitt introduced the 38-page document, which is intended to provide the government's legal justification for revoking the rule. Approximately half of the document consists of citations from automobile manufacturers that state their objections to the rule. By comparison, the 1,217-page document of the Obama administration that justifies its implementation of the regulation included technical, scientific, and economic badyzes that justified the rule.
Environmental policy experts said there were no badytical arguments in the E.P.A. This week. the presentation surprised them. "This document is unprecedented," said Mr. McCargar, former E.P.A. senior policy badyst. "The E.P.A. has never done anything like this."
John M. DeCicco, professor of engineering and public policy at the University of Michigan Energy Institute, said the presentation was a departure from the practices of previous Republican and Democratic administrations.  "A president, an administrator or someone can not simply say:" I'm going to change the rule ", without justifying it very, very carefully," said DeCicco. "As a scientist who has worked on these issues, I am saying, where are the numbers? Where are the data?"
The majority of the document consists of arguments that cite directly from the public comments made by the lobbyists of manufacturers of Cars, the Alliance of automakers and global automakers, that the pollution standards will be unduly burdensome for the automotive industry, as well as public comments from Toyota, Fiat Chrysler, Mercedes-Benz and Mitsubishi.
While it includes arguments opposing the regulatory backlash of groups such as the Union of Concerned Scientists and the State of California, it does not contain what environmental experts say is the critical element of a legally strong justification for changing an EPA regulation: Technician on both sides of the argument leads to a conclusion intended to persuade a judge that the change is defensible.
Seth Michaels, spokesperson for the Union of Concerned Scientists, suggested that, in its re-use of the automotive lobby's arguments, the emission reduction document echoed Mr. Pruitt's modus operandi when he was the Attorney General of Oklahoma.  Continue reading the main story