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Senate Blocks Repeal of an Obama-Administration Environmental Regulation

13 May 2017

Since Trump took office, Congress has utilized this power at least 11 times, many of which focused on the former president's environmental policies.

Republicans tried to move the resolution forward under the Congressional Review Act (CRA)-a law that allows Congress to repeal recently-approved regulations by a simply majority vote.

"Less than 48 hours before the end of the Congressional Review Act carryover period, Senate Republicans couldn't resist trying to sneak through one more special favor for their corporate donors", Robert Weissman, president of the watchdog Public Citizen, said in a statement.

In an official statement, McCain explained that he had voted against the resolution because it would have barred any regulations resembling the BLM rule from being implemented in the future. That echoes a similar sentiment from Graham.

According to the Washington Post, the methane rule will require gas and oil companies to capture methane emissions rather than burn them off or "flare" them at drilling sites, as has been done in the past.

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The methane rule was one of a suite of environmental regulations put in place by Obama as he sought to use his executive authority to tackle climate change across the economy.

"I believe that the public interest is best served if the Interior Department issues a new rule to revise and improve the BLM methane rule".

According to Lukas Ross, Friends of the Earth's climate and energy campaigner, the vote marks a "victory against Trump's plan to hand our public lands to Big Oil [and] is a win for the American people". The Republican-controlled Senate appeared set to follow suit after the OH congressman Rob Portman, considered a swing voter, said the rule "would have hurt our economy and cost jobs in OH by forcing small, independent operators to close existing wells and slowing responsible energy production on federal lands".

But not all Republicans supported the measure, in part because it would have made regulating methane waste more hard in the future.

Some producers also argue that it is a redundant rule that is created to force what is already common-place practices for companies working close to the belt, who lose revenue if they are continually burning off methane gas.

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Despite the setback in the Senate, the Interior Department will attempt to repeal the rule through administrative action.

Democrats united against the measure and were joined by Republican Sens.

In an unexpected result, 49-51, Senate Republicans were unable to force through the Congressional Review Act resolution which would have revoked the waste rule and prevent any further regulation from being introduced.

Congress has used the CRA 13 times to repeal Obama-era rules.

Video of proceedings on the Senate floor show Sen. Proponents say the rule both helps limit the waste of valuable natural resources and reduces the amount of greenhouse gases being discharged into the atmosphere. McCain's vote - and, with it, the rule's reprieve - was a surprise, as reports leading up to Tuesday's vote had not listed him among the undecided senators.

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Senate Blocks Repeal of an Obama-Administration Environmental Regulation