Surprise! Senate Fails to Repeal Obama-Era Rule

It was a rare victory for environmentalists during Trump presidency
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted May 10, 2017 4:34 PM CDT
Surprise! Senate Fails to Repeal Obama-Era Rule
Sen. John McCain, seen here last month, cast a deciding vote Wednesday to preserve an Obama-era rule curbing methane emissions.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Something unprecedented under President Trump's watch happened Wednesday: The Senate failed to repeal an Obama-era rule. The Washington Post reports it was a surprise 49-51 defeat for a resolution that would have repealed a Bureau of Land Management rule curbing methane emissions, with Republicans John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Susan Collins joining Democrats in voting against it. McCain was a last-minute "no," depriving Vice President Pence the opportunity to cast the tie-breaking vote, according to the Hill. The rule prohibits companies drilling on federal land from burning off excess natural gas and releasing methane into the atmosphere, NPR reports.

It was the first time under Trump the Senate failed to repeal an Obama-era rule using the Congressional Review Act—something it has done 13 times already. The CRA allows Congress to overturn rules that were enacted within 60 legislative workdays. But McCain expressed concern in this case that using the CRA would prevent the possibility of similar regulations in the future. That echoes a similar sentiment from Graham. While environmentalists celebrate the win, energy industry officials are now planning an effort to rewrite the rule, which federal estimates say prevents 180,000 tons of methane a year from entering the atmosphere but which the energy industry says makes drilling on federal land overly expensive. Thursday is the final day to use the CRA to overturn Obama-era rules. (More methane stories.)

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