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By Linnea Lueken
The United States Senate voted to rescind changes made under President Donald Trump to strict Obama-era limits on the release of methane gas related to oil and gas production and transportation.
Congressional Review Act in Play
With a vote of 52 in favor of rolling back the Trump administrations methane regulations and 42 opposed, Senate Democrats with three Republicans, used the 1996 Congressional Review Act (CRA) to pass S.J Res. 14. S.J. Res. 14 reinstates the Oil and Gas New Source Performance Standards, regulations limiting methane emissions from oil and gas industry activities previously adopted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2012 and 2016.
The Obama era regulations required oil and gas operators to check every six months for methane leaks from pipelines, storage tanks and other equipment installed after 2015 — and plug any leak within 30 days after it is detected.
The Trump administration rescinded the Obama era restrictions and replaced them with methane limits, timelines for compliance, and penalties of its own in late August 2020.
Under the CRA an executive agency must submit a finalized rule to Congress before it becomes law. Congress then has 60 legislative days to review the act and, by a simple majority, pass a resolution overturning the regulation. The clock for review resets when Congress is not in session. As a result, although the Trump administration finalized the rules in August, because Congress was out of session during the election, on weekends and holidays, the 60 day calendar for review extended into May 2021. On April 28, the Senate voted to rescind the Trump era rules, sending the resolution onto the U.S. House of Representatives. A vote there is expected to take place in May.
Expediting Methane Limits
Because Congress used the CRA to rescind the Trump era regulations, the Obama-era regulations automatically became the the law of the land once again, without EPA having to go through the months long-process of writing new rules.A statement made by the Biden administration after S.J Res. 14 was approved, says the Senate’s action will pave the way for further […]