Energy & Environment

Senate to vote Wednesday on undoing Obama methane rule

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The Senate will consider on Wednesday a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution undoing a contentious Obama administration methane waste rule.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) brought the measure to the floor on Tuesday evening as Republican supporters of the resolution said they expect to have the votes. 

“I think we’ll have the votes to pass it,” Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) said on Tuesday. “We feel we’ll be able to pass it.”

{mosads}Wednesday is the second-to-last day the Senate can approve the legislation under the terms of the Congressional Review Act (CRA), which allows lawmakers to nix administrative regulations through an act of Congress.

The resolution would undo a Bureau of Land Management regulation issued late in the Obama administration that limits venting and flaring of methane from natural gas drilling sites.

Republican supporters of the resolution have hunted for the votes necessary to pass the bill for months, and they have little margin for error. Two Republicans are expected to vote against the measure, and two undecided members — Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) — remain publicly undecided this week.

A group of Midwestern GOP senators has also threatened to hold up the vote as leverage in an ongoing ethanol policy dispute. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) would not say Tuesday whether that issue had been resolved.

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) said on Tuesday that she is “confident the Democrats are going to be strong” in opposing the CRA resolution, which requires only a majority vote to pass.

President Trump is expected to sign the resolution if it comes to his desk. He already signed an executive order beginning the process of ending the rule, but the administrative route he ordered takes a lot longer than the immediate impact of a CRA resolution.

— Timothy Cama contributed.

Tags Chuck Grassley Congressional Review Act Cory Gardner Heidi Heitkamp John Hoeven Maria Cantwell Methane Mitch McConnell

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