Energy & Environment

Here are the three Republicans who voted to undo Trump’s methane rule

Three Republican senators voted with Democrats to get rid of a Trump-era rule that removed limits on methane emissions from the oil and gas sector and made such emissions harder to regulate. 

Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Rob Portman (Ohio) joined the Democrats on what’s considered a significant climate change vote. 

The vote was this Congress’s first use of the Congressional Review Act (CRA), which allows lawmakers to nix regulations put forward during the last 60 legislative days with a simple majority. 

For Collins and Graham, supporting methane regulation is a familiar position, as they both voted against a 2017 Republican move that sought to undo a different Obama-era regulation of the greenhouse gas that was promulgated through the Bureau of Land Management. 

Portman, however, supported the 2017 GOP effort, saying that the Obama administration methane rule “would have hurt our economy and cost jobs in Ohio by forcing small independent operators to close existing wells and slowing responsible energy production on federal lands.”

The rule on Wednesday is separate from the one that was voted on in 2017, dealing with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regulations. 

The EPA rule eliminated methane emission standards for the oil and gas sector altogether and also got rid of limits for substances known as volatile organic compounds from oil and gas transmission and storage.

If it had been allowed to stand, the EPA estimates that it would have added an extra 400,000 tons of methane, which contributes more than carbon dioxide to climate change, to the atmosphere over the next decade. 

It also made it harder for the agency to carry out future regulations of the greenhouse gas. 

Collins, who was a cosponsor of Wednesday’s effort, is one of the Senate’s most moderate members, and has sided with Democrats on notable swing votes in the past, including the one where Republicans failed to get enough votes to repeal ObamaCare. 

More recently, all three senators were the only Republican votes for President Biden’s nominee to lead a White House environment council, while Graham and Collins were among the handful of Republicans who voted to support the confirmation of former Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) to lead the Interior Department. 

Tags Climate change Deb Haaland Greenhouse gas Joe Biden Lindsey Graham Methane methane emissions Rob Portman Susan Collins
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