The Environmental Protection Agency and their eco-zealot fans have been all kinds of pumped at the prospect of slapping some greenhouse-gas regulations on new power plants (a major maneuver in that war on coal they’ve been attentively waging), but last month, they hinted that they were leaning toward putting a hold on the proposed rule, which would have required that no new power plant emit more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour of electricity produced — and WaPo reports on confirmation of the delay from an EPA spokesperson this afternoon.

On Friday, EPA spokeswoman Alisha Johnson confirmed that the agency would not finalize the controversial proposal on time.

Johnson said in an e-mail that the agency was still reviewing more than 2 million comments on its proposal.

“We are working on the rule and no timetable has been set,” Johnson said.

Seems odd, doesn’t it, since these new regulations would have been oh-so-historical, and “restraint” really isn’t in the EPA’s wheelhouse, no? But, as it turns out, the EPA was just a tad bit too ambitious in their rule-making deliberations, and the industry complained that the proposal would have been too strict for even some natural gas facilities’ compliance, so they’re strategically retreating to revise the proposal in the face of all the legal challenges its bound to get. (Natural gas, you’ll recall, has been a driving factor in the United States’ recently declining carbon emissions, and reducing carbon emissions just happen to be environmentalists’ Stated Goal Numbero Uno. Sometimes, the federal government’s penchant for counter-productivity is truly mesmerizing.)

EPA is likely to alter the rule in some way in an effort to make sure it can withstand a legal challenge, according to sources familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the standard has not been finalized. One possibility could include establishing a separate standard for coal-fired power plants, as opposed to gas-fired ones.

Meanwhile, over at the Department of Interior, they’re getting ready to release their own batch of much-anticipated regulations governing hydraulic fracturing, which will also have a major impact on the natural gas industry. More on that soon.