Senate rejects repeal of key Obama-era methane rule

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The Methane and Waste Prevention Rule is a regulation to limit methane emissions from energy production sites on public lands. The nonprofit Taxpayers for Common Sense has been a leading critic of the repeal effort. "It is a powerful greenhouse gas and I am concerned about its impact on the environment". The House passed the resolution on February 3 on a 221-191 vote, with 11 Republicans voting against repeal and three Democrats voting for it.

Erik Milito, senior official at the American Petroleum Institute - one of the biggest oil and gas trade associations in the USA - said in response to the Senate vote: "The BLM's technically flawed rule on methane emissions is an unnecessary and costly misstep".

Although Gov. Tom Wolf has promised to impose regulations on existing gas infrastructure, draft rules from Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection, released earlier this year, only would apply to new facilities. At least one group also views the Department of the Interior's promise to re-open the rule-making process as a good sign. In other words, thanks to the wisdom of the bureacrats at the BLM, the oil and gas industry would actually be making more money.

Democrats and environmental groups say the new rules are necessary to protect the public health while still allowing energy producers to generate millions in revenue for state, local and tribal governments.

Congress proposed to repeal the Bureau of Land Management rule on methane emissions from federal lands approved during the final weeks of the Obama administration.

Methane is the prime component in natural gas targeted by energy companies for production.

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Hours after Senate Republicans' failed attempt to overturn an Obama-era rule regulating methane emissions, the Trump administration announced it will take matters into its own hands.

The rule, phased in over time, requires oil and gas producers to use now available technologies and processes to cut flaring in half at oil wells on public and tribal lands. What it would have done is require congressional approval for future regulations of methane emissions, which is wholly appropriate. "It's the path that Colorado started in 2014, that California continued recently". On Tuesday, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) told reporters she was undecided; she voted against repeal on Wednesday. A vote is scheduled Wednesday even as key GOP senators remain publicly undecided.

The methane rule was one of a suite of environmental regulations put in place by Obama as he sought to use his executive authority to tackle climate change across the US.

"Thankfully, with the leadership of 51 Senators today, we avoid those outcomes and can instead focus on moving forward to implement and improve the methane waste rule-for the benefit of our lands, waters and citizens".

The vote was a rare victory for environmentalists under the Trump White House. "Gardner managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by voting against Colorado's clean air in what amounted to a futile vote for him", said Pete Maysmith, director of Conservation Colorado.

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