A motion to advance legislation that would repeal a methane emissions rule was defeated Wednesday morning in a 51-49 vote. Methane is a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere at nearly 30 times the rate that carbon dioxide does. They say it doesn't always make immediate economic sense for energy producers to swap out old, leaky equipment with newer, more environmentally friendly models, even if the lost gas costs them money.
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In a surprising victory for former president Barack Obama's environmental legacy, the Senate voted Wednesday to uphold an Obama-era climate change regulation to control the release of methane from oil and gas wells on public land. As part of the Interior Department's reform agenda and in furtherance of the Obama Administration's Climate Action Plan, the a final rule was meant to reduce the release of natural gas into the atmosphere from oil and gas operations on public and Indian lands.
"This is an incredible day for the environment and for citizens across the country who have been telling their members of Congress to vote for clean air", executive director Pete Maysmith said in a statement. "That's why most residents Colorado support the BLM rule". "The rule could impede US energy production", the American Petroleum Institute's Erik Milito said in a statement.
Graham told The Hill earlier that a CRA resolution on the rule would be "substantially the same" as the one overturned, adding that he preferred a full replacement of the regulation. Republicans Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Caroline, Susan Collins of ME and John McCain of Arizona joined Senate Democrats, including Sen.
Collins and Graham made their opposition to the bill known, but McCain's no vote was a surprise.
McCain said in a statement he is concerned that the Bureau of Land Management rule may be "onerous", but said undoing the rule through the Congressional Review Act would have prevented the government from issuing a similar rule in the future.
After the Senate failed to repeal a rule governing flaring and venting of associated natural gas on public and tribal lands, a spokeswoman for the Department of Interior (DOI) said the department will "suspend, revise or rescind" the rule, citing its impact on onshore energy development. Michael Bennet of Colorado, a Democrat, tweeted to Pence after the vote.
"Today's vote is a win for American taxpayers, a win for public health and a win for our climate", Markey said.
Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., who had been declining to say how he might vote on the issue, voted with the Republican minority to move forward with debate on the issue. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.
The rule is created to prevent venting and flaring from oil and gas wells on public lands.
"Using the Congressional Review Act to overturn the rule would have been far too blunt an instrument to use, when administrative fixes can more effectively address any concerns with the methane waste rule".