Congress votes to invalidate Trump administration’s methane rule

Jun 25, 2021
Press Release
House approves reinstatement of Obama-era rules, measure heads to president’s desk for signature

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. House of Representatives voted today to approve a Resolution of Disapproval that will invalidate the Trump administration’s 2020 Methane Rescission Rule – a move that will reinstate two key Obama-era methane-emission rules and reestablish stricter regulations on the nation’s oil and gas industry.

The resolution, which was introduced under the Congressional Review Act – in the House by U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) and in the Senate by U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) – rescinds a rule the Trump administration put in place on Nov. 16, 2020 to weaken, and in some cases fully eliminate, the requirements that oil and natural gas companies limit the amount of methane coming from their operations.

“If we're going to be serious about combatting this climate crisis, we have to take steps now to cut the amount of methane in our atmosphere,” DeGette said. “This legislation will keep more than 1.6 million tons of methane out of the air that we all breath. And it will require oil and gas companies to take the steps necessary to better protect our planet – and the public’s health – by reinstating the Obama-era methane standards that were put in place in 2016. Getting this legislation approved today is a big win in our overall effort to combat the climate crisis, and a critical first step toward sufficiently reducing our nation’s overall methane emissions.”

Enacted in 1996, the Congressional Review Act gives Congress the power to review and, if necessary, disapprove of certain federal regulations put in place by a previous administration.

The resolution approved today with bipartisan support, by vote of 229 - 191, will invalidate the Trump administration’s 2020 Methane Rescission Rule and reinstate the 2012 and 2016 Oil and Natural Gas New Source Performance Standards that were put in place by the Obama administration.

The soon-to-be-reinstated Obama-era standards, which require U.S. oil and gas producers to take steps to limit the amount of methane that’s released from their production sites, are seen as key to combatting the global climate crisis.

The rules also limit the amount of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, that can be released during the transmission and storage of oil and natural gas. These harmful pollutants are known not only to harm the environment and fuel global warming, but are also known to cause significant harm to the health of those living nearby.

“These emissions don't just harm our planet,” DeGette said on the House floor Friday prior to the vote. “When methane is released from oil and gas sites, it's often accompanied by other pollutants that are known to cause additional harm to people's health. That's why this legislation is so important, and that's why the Trump administration's egregious attempt to eliminate these important rules - and let oil and gas companies release more methane from their drilling sites - was met with such outrage and fury by citizens across this country.”

As a greenhouse gas, methane is up to 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide when it’s released into the atmosphere where it becomes a leading contributor to global warming.

Nearly one-third of all methane emissions in the U.S. comes from the production of oil and natural gas and climate experts agree that reducing emissions from those sites is key to combatting the overall climate crisis. 

In fact, a recent study found that taking swift action to reduce methane emission could slow the Earth’s warming by as much as 30%.

The legislation approved today in the House (S.J. Res. 14) was first approved in the Senate on April 28, 2020. It now heads to the president’s desk where he is expected to sign it in to law.

Click here for a copy of the resolution.

Click here to watch video of DeGette’s remarks on the House floor prior to today’s vote.