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.