House panel votes to invalidate Trump administration’s methane-emission rule

Jun 10, 2021
Press Release
Legislation brought by U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette under the Congressional Review Act would reinstate Obama-era standards

WASHINGTON, DC – The House Energy and Commerce Committee voted today to approve legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) that would invalidate the Trump administration’s 2020 Methane Rescission Rule and reinstate two key Obama-era rules that set stricter regulations on methane emissions from the nation’s oil and gas industry.

The Resolution of Disapproval (H. J. Res. 34), which DeGette introduced in March under the Congressional Review Act, would rescind the Trump administration rule that sought to weaken, and in some cases fully eliminate, requirements that oil and natural gas companies limit the amount of methane coming from their operations.

“If we’re going to be serious about solving this climate crisis, we absolutely must take steps now to reduce the amount of methane that’s being released into our atmosphere,” DeGette said. “If allowed to stand, this rule put in place by the Trump administration will set us back years in our fight to stave off the worst effects of this climate crisis. The Congressional Review Act gives us the power to invalidate such rules. If protecting our planet from an existential threat, such as climate change, isn’t an important time to invoke that power, then I don’t know what is.”

Enacted in 1996, the Congressional Review Act gives Congress the power to review and, if necessary, disapprove of certain federal regulations. Unlike other legislation, a Resolution of Disapproval seeking to negate a federal agency rule under the CRA needs only a simple majority in each chamber of Congress to be approved.

If approved, DeGette’s resolution would negate the Trump administration’s rule and reinstate the 2012 and 2016 Oil and Natural Gas New Source Performance Standards that were put in place by the Obama administration.

Those regulations, which require U.S. oil and gas producers to take steps to limit the amount of methane that’s released during the production and processing of oil and natural gas, are key to combatting the climate crisis. The rules also limit the amount of methane and other volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, that can be released during the transmission and storage of oil and natural gas, which are known not only to harm the environment, but also the health of those living in nearby communities.

Nearly 25% of all global warming caused by humans to date has been attributed to release of methane into our atmosphere. And the largest source of methane emissions in the United States is the production of oil and natural gas, which is responsible for nearly one-third of all the country’s methane emissions.

As a greenhouse gas, methane is up to 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide when it’s released into the atmosphere. When it’s released with other VOCs that are often emitted from oil and gas production sites it can further exacerbate the health effects that such pollutants can cause more vulnerable populations, such as children and the elderly.  

In addition to DeGette, the resolution that the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved today, by a vote of 30 to 22, was cosponsored by U.S. Reps. Scott Peters (D-CA), Conor Lamb (D-PA), Nanette Barragan (D-CA), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Peter DeFazio (D-OR),  Ro Khanna (D-CA), Ann Kuster (D-NH), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Chris Pappas (D-NH), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) and Peter Welch (D-VT).

An identical version of the resolution was approved by the Senate in April – meaning, if ultimately approved by the full House, the issue will then head straight to the president’s desk where it is expected to be signed into law.

Click here for a PDF of the resolution.