Sign up to receive breaking news and new edition alerts:
2017-06-02 / Energy Updates

Environmentalists triumph as Senate upholds drilling rule

WASHINGTON (AP) – Environmentalists notched a rare win in the Republican-led Senate on Wednesday as a GOP effort to reverse an Obama-era rule restricting harmful methane emissions unexpectedly failed.

The 51-49 vote against the repeal measure was a blow to the fossil-fuel industry and groups linked to the conservative Koch Brothers, which had waged a public campaign to overturn the Interior Department rule.

The rule, finalized in November, would force energy companies to capture methane that’s burned off or “flared” at drilling sites because it earns less money than oil. An estimated $330 million a year in methane — the component of natural gas — is wasted through leaks or intentional releases, enough to power about 5 million homes a year.

The Interior Department said in a statement Wednesday that the rule imposes significant burdens on energy production and they would review it.

The vote marked the first time that the Republican-led Congress has rejected a bid to overturn a rule imposed by President Barack Obama using the previously obscure Congressional Review Act.

The latest target was the Interior Department rule on methane.

Republicans and industry groups complained that the federal rule duplicates state regulations in place throughout the West and would decrease energy production on federal lands, raise energy costs and eliminate jobs.

Democrats and environmental groups countered that the rule protects the public health and generates tens of millions of dollars in revenue for state, local and tribal governments.

Three Republican senators — Maine’s Susan Collins, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John McCain of Arizona — joined forces with Democrats to block the efforts to overturn the rule.

Return to top

Sign up for Biz Alerts

Email Marketing You Can Trust