Congress votes to reinstate Trump’s loosened methane rules; Measure sponsored by DeGette


WASHINGTON – Democrats in Congress have approved rule-restoring measure to limit global warming-related greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas drilling, a rare effort by Democrats to use the legislature to reverse a regulatory setback under President Donald Trump.

The House gave final legislative approval on Friday to a resolution that would overturn a Trump-era environmental rule that relaxed the requirements of a 2016 Obama administration rule targeting methane emissions from leaks and flares in gas stations. oil and gas well.

The resolution was approved, 229-191, and now goes to President Joe Biden, who is expected to sign it. Twelve Republicans joined 217 Democrats in supporting the measure.

Democrats and environmentalists have called the methane rule one of the Trump administration’s most egregious actions to deregulate U.S. businesses and said its removal would help kick-start a broader Biden administration and Congress effort. to fight against climate change. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming, having a stronger short-term impact than carbon dioxide.

“Congress has just won its first bipartisan climate victory,” said Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund. “Methane control is a winning proposition for all parties, as it reduces pollution and waste. “

The resolution was approved under the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to overturn some recent regulations. The Trump methane rule was finalized last September.

The methane action was one of only three Trump-era rules targeted by Democrat-controlled Congress under the Overhaul Act, in stark contrast to the 14 Obama-era rules repealed by the Democrats. Congressional Republicans during the first year of the Trump administration.

Other rules Democrats approved targeted Trump-era actions easing regulations on payday lenders and one that Democrats said gave employers an unfair advantage over workers in resolving discrimination complaints.

Representative Diana DeGette D-Colo., Who sponsored the methane measurement, called her endorsement “a great victory in our global effort to tackle the climate crisis and a critical first step towards sufficiently reducing global methane emissions by our country”.

If Biden and Congress “are going to be serious about tackling this climate crisis, we must take action now to reduce the amount of methane in our atmosphere,” DeGette said. The legislation will prevent more than 1.6 million tonnes of methane from the air all Americans breathe and will require oil and gas companies “to take the necessary steps to better protect our planet and public health” by restoring methane standards put in place in 2016, she said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Said the action on methane was part of a congressional effort to reassert its own power. She called the Congressional Review Act “one of the most important tools of Congress … to serve the people and reclaim our authority under the Constitution, while maintaining the balance of power which is the foundation of our American democracy.” .

Representative Kathy Castor, D-Fla., Chair of the House special committee on the climate crisis, said the measure approved Friday “will restore common sense safeguards to limit methane pollution from oil production and gas. It is a modest and direct step in the right direction, but it is a very important step.

Republicans disagreed, saying the measure unfairly targeted oil and gas companies already striving to cut emissions of methane and other greenhouse gases.

Representative Pete Stauber, R-Minn., Said the repeal measure advanced “radical activist priorities” while empowering foreign oil producers in the Middle East and Russia.

Representative Yvette Herrell, RN.M, said the measure “would say and come the most essential business in my district,” oil and gas producers who she said could be forced to shut down due to excessive government regulations.

These statements were at odds with the oil and gas industry, which broadly supported Obama-era rule. The Environmental Protection Agency rule has reduced methane emissions at facilities built or modified since 2015, requiring companies to deploy technology to detect and repair leaks in oil and gas wells. Many large energy companies have adopted methane capture as a way to save money and promote natural gas as a cleaner option than coal in power plants across the country.

Congressional action paves the way for the EPA to develop rules to regulate methane emissions from new and existing wells, including hundreds of thousands of older wells that are not federally regulated under current law.

Oil giant BP said on Friday it supported direct federal regulation of methane emissions.

“Keeping methane in the pipes is good for the planet and good for business. This means we can sell it as a cleaner fuel source rather than wasting it, ”said Mary Streett, senior vice president at BP. “We are pleased that Congress recognizes the importance of this goal and we encourage the President to sign the resolution. “

The American Petroleum Institute, the industry’s leading lobbying group, said it would work with the Biden administration to support the direct regulation of methane from new and existing sources.

“We have the opportunity to build on the progress made by industry to reduce methane emissions through technological advancements, and we are committed to finding common ground on cost-effective government policies,” said Jessica Szymanski, door – API speech.

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