By May 10, 2017 Read More →

Senate rejects Trump administration bid to revoke Obama methane rule

methane

The White House was dealt a blow on Wednesday when the US Senate rejected a Trump administration resolution to revoke former President Obama’s rule to limit methane emissions.

Resolution would have made regulating methane waste difficult in the future

In a surprise move on Wednesday, the Republican-run US Senate rejected the Trump administration’s resolution to revoke an Obama-era rule to limit methane emissions from oil and gas production on federal lands.

The rejection is a blow to President Trump’s efforts to free the oil and gas industry from what it calls excessive environmental regulation.

Reuters reports the proposed repeal of the rule had been a top priority for companies who said it would cost them tens of thousands of dollars per well and would hinder production.

The Congressional Review Act which would have revoked the rule and prevented similar regulations from being introduced needed 51 votes to pass, but came up short with only 49.

Republican Senator John McCain voted against the resolution along with Lindsey Graham and Susan Collins.

In a statement, McCain said “While I am concerned that the BLM rule may be onerous, passage of the resolution would have prevented the federal government, under any administration, from issuing a rule that is ‘similar’.”

McCain called on the Interior Department to issue a new rule to replace the existing one on methane leaks, which the Arizona senator called a public health and air quality issue.

During his last weeks in office, President Barack Obama updated the 30-year old regulations governing flaring, venting and natural gas leaks from oil and gas production.

Along with environmental gains in the Obama regulations, the rules would also preserve up to 41 billion cubic feet of natural gas per year that is currently lost to leaks and flaring.

The Western Values Project says had the methane rule been rescinded, $800 million in potential royalties would have been lost due to leaked or vented natural gas over the coming decade.

Reuters reports the American Petroleum Institute along with other industry groups call the Obama methane rule unnecessary because companies have already moved to reduce leaks.

“The rule could impede U.S. energy production while reducing local and federal revenues,” Erik Milito, API’s Upstream and Industry Operations Group Director said in an interview with Reuters.

Western Energy Alliance members, including Devon Energy, Whiting Petroleum and EOG Resources are strongly opposed to the Obama methane rule.

On the other side, environmental groups are cheering the vote, calling it a rare victory for the environment after a number of regulatory rollbacks by President Trump.

“In recent months, thousands of Americans asked the Senate to stand up for clean air and against the oil lobby, and their efforts were successful today,” Jamie Williams, president of the Wilderness Society told Reuters.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Republican Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming supported the resolution to kill the rule.  He is now calling on Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to revoke it.

 

 

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