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GOP lines up resolutions to undo coal, methane rules

GOP lines up resolutions to undo coal, methane rules
© Moriah Ratner

House Republicans are preparing to vote next week on two resolutions undoing pollution rules issued in the closing months of the Obama administration. 

Two Interior Department rules — one protecting streams from coal mining waste and another to cut methane emissions at oil and natural gas drilling sites — are the targets of Congressional Review Act resolutions due up in the House next week. 

Rep. Rob BishopRobert (Rob) William BishopDaylight Saving Time costs more than it's worth Congress can’t give ranchers a pass when they abuse national park access Senate panel moves to renew expired park conservation fund MORE (R-Utah), the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, called the rules “abusive, last minute regulations.”

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“Congress has an obligation to ensure executive actions are consistent with congressional intent, and that agencies operate in accordance with their statutory mandate,” he said on Friday. “When they don’t, and in this case they haven’t, it is our responsibility to act.”

Both rules have been targets for House Republicans and affected industries for a long time. 

The Stream Protection Rule is an Office of Surface Mining regulation that was reviewed over the course of the entire Obama administration. Environmental groups supported the rule as a measure to protect waterways from adverse impacts of mountaintop removal mining, but the coal industry said the regulation would kill mining jobs. 

Methane was a target for Obama later on in his presidency, when regulators warned about its impact on climate change. But the drilling industry said the Bureau of Land Management's venting and flaring rule is too costly, and it quickly moved to oppose new federal regulations on oil and natural gas wells. 

President Trump has said he would undo federal regulations on the fossil fuel industry, meaning both resolutions are likely to pass and undo the rules they target. 

A senior House Democrat this month urged members of his party to oppose resolutions against the rules. But the GOP has majorities in both the House and Senate, and because CRA resolutions are not subject to a filibuster, their path to passage is relatively clear.

The House will also consider a measure next week to undo a  Securities and Exchange Commission rule requiring more financial information from oil, natural gas and mineral developers, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) wrote in an op-ed on Tuesday.