Senate Protects Obama Climate-Change Rule from Trump Repeal

Donald Duck
Donald, Duck!

Is Donald Trump already heading toward lame-duck status?

Last November, President Barack Obama approved a rule limiting venting and flaring of natural gas from oil and gas wells on federal lands. The Obama Administration said the rule could save 41 billion cubic feet of natural gas from sheer waste each year and would reduce emissions of particularly potent greenhouse gas methane.

Donald Trump, of course, thinks waste and global warming are great, since he can just put Mar-a-Lago on gold stilts. He told Congress to repeal the Obama emissions rule. The House went along with Trump in early February, but yesterday, after three and a half months of Trump bumbling, the Senate rejected the methane rule repeal:

In a surprising win for environmentalists and Democrats and a blow to the fossil-fuel industry, the Senate on Wednesday failed in a bid to reverse an Obama-era regulation restricting harmful methane emissions that escape from oil and gas wells on federal land.

The vote was 51-49 in the Republican-led Senate with three GOP lawmakers — Maine’s Susan Collins, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John McCain of Arizona — joining forces with the Democrats to block efforts to overturn the rule [Matthew Daly, “Senate Blocks Move to Repeal Obama-Era Rule on Methane Emissions,” AP via PBS, 2017.05.10].

Environmental groups are happy:

“This is a huge win for our health, our clean air, and our climate, and shows that President Trump’s plans to unravel hard-won environmental protections are not a foregone conclusion,” League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski said in a statement. “The battle for a clean, safe environment is far from over, and we will continue to stay vigilant, but today is a victory for all those who are raising their voice in resistance to the anti-environmental Trump administration, Republican leadership and Congress.”

…“Today is a victory for our public lands and for the health of families across America, and a defeat for Donald Trump, corporate polluters, and their friends on Capitol Hill,” Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said in a statement in response to the Senate vote. “People across the country will continue to resist and hold Congress and Trump accountable for any efforts to put the profits of polluters before the health of our families and our communities” [Mark Hand, “GOP Fails to Repeal Obama Methane Rule After John McCain, 2 Other Republicans Defect,” ThinkProgress, 2017.05.10].

The New York Times observes that the methane defeat signals a weakening of Trump’s hand on Capitol Hill:

It also could worsen the Trump administration’s problems on Capitol Hill, where there are signs the president’s grip on his party is loosening [Coral Davenport, “In Win for Environmentalists, Senate Keeps an Obama-Era Climate Change Rule,” New York Times, 2017.05.10].

Key Republicans abandon Trump on a vote to repeal an Obama climate-change rule while Trump bans American reporters but not Russian press from a White House meeting with the Russian foreign minister and blusters incoherently about his impeachable termination of the FBI director. Welcome to the end of whatever political capital Donald Trump brought to Washington.

5 Responses to Senate Protects Obama Climate-Change Rule from Trump Repeal

  1. For Lindsey Graham and John McCain I wonder if they are really concerned for the environment or if they are just looking for opportunities like this where they can defect with Susan Collins just to make Donald look like the graphic in this post. Maybe it’s both, but certainly the latter.

  2. Peter Carrels

    It’s hard to understand why Republicans want to kill this measure that fights waste and pollution. Sometimes it seems they -especially President Trump- are more interested in overturning anything pursued by former President Obama than making sense. This measure -the one Trump wants to overturn- was necessary and important and it doesn’t cost oil and gas companies very much to implement. By the way, both Senator Thune and Senator Rounds voted yes, favoring eliminating of this measure that controls and reduces methane pollution and waste coming from developed gas fields. Next thing you know they’ll be supporting a lifting of protective measures regulating oil development in the Gulf of Mexico that came about because of the BP oil spill disaster — Oh wait, they’re trying to do that now!

  3. Robert McTaggart

    The EPA gives CO2 a Global Warming Potential of 1 as its reference gas. Methane has a GWP of 28-36 over 100 years. If taken over 20 years this increases to 84-87. CH4 stays in the atmosphere for only 10 years on average (compared with thousands of years for CO2), but it absorbs much more energy than CO2. Methane is a precursor to ozone, and the indirect ozone GWP impact is included in these numbers.

    Other fluorocarbons may have GWPs on the order of 10,000 times greater than CO2.

    Flaring and venting are wasteful (that’s product that the producers cannot sell). We are fond of saying that burning natural gas emits half of the carbon that coal does, but that doesn’t take into account production losses.

  4. While montana melts, best montana guitarist of “Mission Mountain Wood Band” runs for democratic congress.

    meanwhile trump jr. campaigns for republicans next week there. Gianforte is running to replace Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who resigned Montana’s only U.S. House seat in early March to become a Trump Cabinet member. His main opponent is Democrat Rob Quist, a Montana musician from Creston. Quist band played in RC in the 70s many, many times and was a huge draw for several years. Best band Montana ever produced. Kind of a “CSNY” Manassas style group. Hippies!!

  5. Indeed, why waste? It’s fuel. There ought to be some way to save it or use it to generate power.