Republicans push back on Interior methane leak plan

Republicans push back on Interior methane leak plan
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House Republicans want the Interior Department to drop plans to regulate methane emissions on federal lands. 

In a Wednesday letter to Interior Secretary Sally JewellSarah (Sally) Margaret JewellOvernight Regulation: Senate panel approves driverless car bill | House bill to change joint-employer rule advances | Treasury to withdraw proposed estate tax rule | Feds delaying Obama methane leak rule Overnight Energy: Dems take on Trump's chemical safety pick GOP chairman probes Zinke’s charter plane use MORE, Republicans said the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lacks the power to regulate emissions from oil and gas drilling wells, and that it should instead work to more quickly approve transmission lines to get natural gas on the market.

“This rule adds another layer of duplicative federal regulation on top of already existing federal and state regulations,” said the letter, led by Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob BishopRobert (Rob) William BishopOvernight Energy: Puerto Rico officials defend Whitefish deal before Congress | US wants level playing field at UN climate summit | House passes flood insurance overhaul GOP chairman cites ‘credibility gap’ in Puerto Rico recovery Lawyers warned Puerto Rico utility against Whitefish contract MORE (R-Utah) and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). 

“The rule oversteps BLM’s regulatory jurisdiction and completely fails to address crucial failures by the BLM to capture methane emissions through common sense methods such as timely right-of-way permitting. For these reasons, we urge the agency to withdraw this misguided effort.”

The Interior Department released new methane standards for oil and natural gas drilling on federal land in January, looking to restrict accidental or deliberate methane leaks at sites and restricting the burning, or flaring, of gas that isn’t captured there. 

The rule is part of a government-wide effort to restrict leaks of methane, the main component of natural gas and a powerful greenhouse gas. 

Opponents of the effort, including Republicans and the drilling industry, say drillers have done a good job of restricting emissions on their own, and that they have a financial incentive to capture as much methane as they can by delivering natural gas to market. Republicans’ call for quicker permitting of transmission lines is a component of that argument. 

“BLM should continue to work collaboratively to drive more innovative technologies that build upon existing methane emissions decreases, while also promulgating common sense reforms to address the ongoing delays that plague the current right-of-way permitting process,” the Republicans wrote.