A well-thought-out GOP resolution to repeal the Obama administration’s methane rule was killed in a surprise decision by the Senate, reports The Hill.
Senator John McCain, Republican, voted against the repeal – something unexpected of Republican members of the Senate. McCain joined other Republican Senators, including Susan Collins and Lindsey Graham, alongside the 48 Democrats to kill the measure with 51 to 49.
Collins and Graham expressed concerns over the repeal for weeks, and long before the vote told news reporters their answer is “no.” However, no one saw McCain’s “nay” coming.
A Win for the Climate Change Crowd?
So far, Obama’s environmental legacy lives on, and climate change groups are excited at the results of the Senate vote.
The regulation instilled by Obama’s administration regulated the control and release of methane from oil and gas wells located on public lands. A repeal from the GOP would remove the 2016 Interior Department rule that curbed such emissions.
Methane allegedly affects greenhouse gas levels. Democrats have publicly opposed the bill, but GOP members assumed their repeal would quickly pass the Senate – where they hold the majority.
Unfortunately, GOP leaders did not see the McCain vote coming, and his break from the party to join Democrats was shocking.
Trump succeeded with 13 other repeals from the Congressional Review Act (CRA), and more votes are underway to undo key items of the Obama administration. Most of the CRA issues were finalized during Obama’s last few months in office.
However, this failure is a hearty strike to Republicans, the GOP leaders wanted to reverse the methane regulation. Opponents of the methane regulations state that it causes unnecessary costs to the oil and gas sectors, especially when drilling on federal lands.
The defeat goes in the win column for environmentalists opposed to repealing methane regulations.
What Does the Rule Do for Oil and Gas?
The methane regulation forces companies to capture any methane released from their drilling sites. The law prevents an approximated 180,000 tons of methane from entering the Earth’s atmosphere per year. Also, repealing the regulation would free up $13 million to $13 million in revenue, because these oil and gas firms only pay royalties on what they capture and contain.
McCain’s unexpected denial of the repeal caught the Senate off-guard. Further, the two Democrats who were expected to cross party lines and side with the GOP voted against the motion.
Senators have received increased pressures from their constituents to promote green living and environmental policies. Therefore, some say the pressures of keeping potential voters happy for the upcoming Senate elections drove the votes for environmental protections – when, otherwise, the Senators would have supported the GOP measure to be repealed.
Vote Doesn’t Impact Waste Prevention
The Interior’s acting assistant secretary for land and minerals states that the vote in the Senate does not change Trump’s work towards flagging and rescinding the Waste Prevention programs, which are a significant burden on energy production. Also, the Senate’s vote does not impact the administration’s ability to ensure growth in the environmental and energy sectors, while ensuring regulations are smart and necessary.
The methane regulation lacked balance, which was why the Trump administration and the House aimed at repealing it. The Interior Department is likely to work on the venting and flaring of public lands, calling for a Department action on reducing methane waste if the repeal succeeded.
While the administration wants methane regulations lessened, by no means does that indicate Trump intends to harm the environment with methane. Instead, he only wants a balanced solution that does not limit energy growth.