May 7, 2021
The Senate voted on Wednesday, April 28, 2021 to effectively reinstate an Obama-era regulation designed to clamp down on emissions of methane, a powerful, climate-warming pollutant that will have to be controlled to meet President Biden’s ambitious climate change promises, according to the New York Times.
Taking a page from congressional Republicans who in 2017 made liberal use of a once-obscure law to roll back Obama-era regulations, Democrats invoked the law to turn back a Trump methane rule enacted late last summer. That rule had eliminated Obama-era controls on leaks of methane, which seeps from oil and gas wells.
The 52-42 vote was the first time congressional Democrats have used the law, called the Congressional Review Act, which prohibits Senate filibusters and ensures one administration’s last-minute regulations can be swiftly overturned with a simple majority vote in both chambers of Congress. Three Republican senators — Susan Collins of Maine, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Rob Portman of Ohio — joined Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents to vote for the measure.
Passage of the measure in the House next month is considered pro forma, as is Mr. Biden’s signature. And with Donald J. Trump’s regulation out of the way, the Obama methane rule would go back into force.
That rule, released in 2016, had imposed the first federal limits on methane leaks from oil and gas wells, requiring companies to monitor, plug and capture leaks of methane from new drilling sites.
With the striking of the Trump methane rule, Democrats will have enacted the first legislative step toward that goal.
“Once the president signs it, this will be the first move by Congress and this administration to actually put climate policy back on the books,” said Dan Grossman, director of legislative and regulatory affairs at the Environmental Defense Fund, an advocacy group.
In a statement of support for the vote, the White House called methane “a potent climate-disrupting greenhouse gas that is responsible for approximately one-third of the global warming.”
The statement added that “addressing methane pollution” is “an urgent and essential step.”
What this means to you
The senate voted to reinstate an Obama-era regulation designed to lower emissions of methane, which is mainly emitted from leaks in oil and gas drilling sites.
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