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Democrats target Trump methane rule with Congressional Review Act

Democrats target Trump methane rule with Congressional Review Act
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The Senate will take up a resolution to roll back a Trump-era rule that limits the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability to regulate methane.

The Hill first reported Wednesday that the lawmakers had drafted the legislation to use the Congressional Review Act (CRA), which allows Congress to nix any regulations finalized in the previous 60 legislative days, against the methane rule.

The legislation, spearheaded by Sens. Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichDemocrats battle over best path for Puerto Rico Intelligence leaders warn of threats from China, domestic terrorism Top academics slam Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act MORE (D-N.M.) and Angus KingAngus KingSenate confirms SEC chief Gensler to full five-year term Manchin throws support behind union-backed PRO Act The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - All US adults now eligible for COVID vaccines MORE (I-Maine), targets an August rule finalized by the Trump administration that critics described as a gift to the oil and gas industry, which leaks heat-trapping methane during production.

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“In the wake of the Trump administration, there are very few Clean Air Act protections left in place to limit emissions of dangerous methane pollution from the production, processing, transmission and storage of oil and gas in the United States,” Heinrich said in a statement.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerOn The Money: Yellen touts 'whole-of-economy' plan to fight climate change | Senate GOP adopts symbolic earmark ban, digs in on debt limit Hillicon Valley: Tech companies duke it out at Senate hearing | Seven House Republicans vow to reject donations from Big Tech Lawmakers reintroduce bill to invest billions to compete with China in tech MORE (D-N.Y.) announced Thursday that the Senate would take the bill up after returning from April recess.

The EPA argued last year that the standards it rescinded were redundant, overlapping substantially with other regulations regarding volatile organic compounds.

But the rule was especially alarming to environmentalists given that methane is significantly more harmful to the planet than carbon dioxide. Some studies indicate that the climate change-linked gas is 80 times more adept at trapping heat in the atmosphere in the first 20 years than carbon dioxide is.

“When it comes to steps we can take to address climate change, limiting methane emissions is the low-hanging fruit,” King said in a statement. 

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“The gas traps an immense amount of atmospheric heat significantly more than carbon dioxide — and is relatively cheap and easy to capture. That’s why it was so dangerous when the previous administration neglected their responsibility to protect the planet, putting the short-term interests of polluters over the long-term interests of the planet we will leave to our children and grandchildren. It’s critical that Congress rolls back last year’s environmental sabotage, and reinstates rules limiting methane emissions.”

Democrats need just 50 votes in the Senate to overturn a regulation using the CRA — something that could still be difficult with the party's razor-thin margins.

Reps. Diana DeGetteDiana Louise DeGetteDemocrats target Trump methane rule with Congressional Review Act Regulator: Evidence suggests Texas 'absolutely' didn't follow recommendations to winterize power equipment Democrats urge FDA to clear market of all flavored e-cigarettes MORE (D-Colo.), Scott PetersScott H. PetersBiden clean electricity standard faces high hurdles House Democrats introduce carbon pricing measure Democrats target Trump methane rule with Congressional Review Act MORE (D-Calif.) and Conor Lamb (D-Pa.) will introduce the same resolution in the House.

Democrats have thus far made efforts to use the CRA for only one other Trump-era rule, with Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayHouse passes bill to combat gender pay gap Schumer kicks into reelection mode Democrats target Trump methane rule with Congressional Review Act MORE (D-Wash.) and Rep. Bobby ScottRobert (Bobby) Cortez ScottDemocrats target Trump methane rule with Congressional Review Act Senators eye rollback of Trump methane rule with Congressional Review Act To Build Back Better, Biden must invest in modern apprenticeship system MORE (D-Va.) forwarding a resolution of disapproval for a rule weakening the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The CRA was a legislative tool favored by Republicans in the early days of the Trump administration, used by a GOP-led Congress to strike down 14 regulations from the Obama era.

But Democrats have been more reluctant to use the CRA, partly due to concern over statutory language in the law that blocks the relevant agency from then crafting another rule that’s substantially similar.

—Updated at 12:50 p.m.