updated 2/10/2009 4:11:54 PM ET 2009-02-10T21:11:54

The Obama administration is delaying a rule issued in the final days of President George W. Bush's presidency that would have let some industrial facilities avoid having to install pollution controls when they expand.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday that the rule would be delayed 90 days so it could be re-evaluated.

Environmentalists had complained that the rule would have let power plants, factories and other industrial facilities increase emissions that cause soot and smog.

Industry groups said the rule would have enabled facilities to upgrade power plants without worrying about violating anti-pollution laws.

Existing facilities typically must apply for a permit when modifications will emit an additional 40 tons a year of a major pollutant.

The regulation the Bush administration adopted on Jan. 15 would have changed how facilities calculate how much pollution would result from their upgrades.

The delay, which pushes back the rule until May, is another sign that President Barack Obama is diverging from the ways of the Bush administration on air pollution.

Last week, the Justice Department announced it would no longer fight to uphold a Bush administration plan — favored by industry — for controlling mercury emissions from power plants.

Courts had found that the Bush plan violated the Clean Air Act. Obama's EPA has begun crafting a new regulation to limit mercury emissions from power plants.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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