Senate Votes against Revoking Rule that Limits Methane Emissions

Senate Votes against Revoking Rule that Limits Methane Emissions

Senate blocks move to overturn Obama-era rule on drilling.

The Senate has voted against revoking an Obama-era rule limiting methane emissions on federal land in a rare win for environmentalists on May 10.

The 51-49 vote against the repeal measure was a blow to the fossil-fuel industry and groups linked to the conservative Koch Brothers, which had waged a public campaign to overturn the Interior Department rule.

The rule, finalized in November, forces energy companies to capture methane that’s burned off or “flared” at drilling sites because it earns less money than oil. An estimated $330 million a year in methane is wasted through leaks or intentional releases, enough to power about 5 million homes a year.

Republicans and industry groups complained that the rule duplicates state regulations in place throughout the West and would decrease energy production on federal lands while the Democrats and environmental groups countered that the rule protects the public health and generates tens of millions of dollars in revenue for state, local and tribal governments.

The vote marked the first time that the Republican-led Congress has rejected a bid to overturn a rule imposed by President Barack Obama using the previously obscure Congressional Review Act.

Three Republican senators – Maine’s Susan Collins, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John McCain of Arizona, all voted with the Democrats to block the efforts to overturn the rule.

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