Biden nixes Trump rules on methane emissions, lending, employment discrimination

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President Biden on Wednesday eliminated three Trump-era rules governing climate change, finance and employment discrimination claims, signing Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolutions passed by the House and Senate to get rid of the rules.

“I’m about to sign into law three bills … protecting our planet from climate disturbing greenhouse gas, particularly methane, which is devastating, protecting consumers from predatory lenders and protecting workers from employment discrimination,” Biden said.

“Each of these bills reflects a return to common sense and commitment to the common good,” he added. 

His signature makes it the first time that Democrats have successfully used the CRA, which needs a simple majority vote in both chambers and presidential approval, to get rid of recently-passed rules. 

The CRA was successfully used just once before 2017, but at the start of Trump’s presidency Republicans were able to eliminate more than a dozen Obama-era regulations since they controlled both the House and Senate.

The climate rule that Biden got rid of weakened regulation on a powerful greenhouse gas called methane. 

Specifically, eliminated standards aimed at limiting methane emissions from oil and gas production, processing transmission and storage. 

Biden’s action restored 2016 Obama-era regulations that required companies to capture methane leaks. 

The Trump rule was expected to add 400,000 short tons of methane, which is more powerful than carbon dioxide but spends less time in the atmosphere, into the air over the course of a decade. 

The rule was also expected to create an extra hurdle for regulating air pollution in general by requiring the EPA to determine that certain emissions it wants to limit contribute “significantly” to air pollution before it can regulate them. 

Another rule allowed lenders to offer loans at interest rates that exceed state limits if they team up with a federally chartered bank headquartered in a state with a higher cap.

The Trump administration argued that the rule clears up uncertainty surrounding who is the “true lender” in such cases, but opponents say it allows lenders to charge consumers higher rates.

The third rule that Biden eliminated requires the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to provide more information to employers when the agency is trying to help reach an out-of-court resolution in discrimination cases.

The Trump administration said the additional information would improve transparency, while critics said it could lead to retaliation because employers would be able to better-identify victims and witnesses, with employers also having an advantage in potential litigation through early access to information.

—Updated at 6:02 p.m.

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