Lawmakers move to reinstate Obama-era methane emissions standards

Mar 25, 2021
Press Release
DeGette, Heinrich to invoke Congressional Review Act to invalidate Trump methane rules

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Reps. Diana DeGette (D-CO), Scott Peters (D-CA) and Conor Lamb (D-PA) announced today they plan to introduce a Resolution of Disapproval under the Congressional Review Act this week to reinstate an Obama-era rule that regulated methane emissions from the oil and gas industry.

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 needs only a simple majority in each chamber to be approved. It is not subject to the Senate’s filibuster rule.

If approved, the resolution DeGette and others plan to introduce Friday would invalidate the Trump administration’s 2020 Methane Rescission Rule that has weakened, and in some cases eliminated altogether, requirements that oil and natural gas companies limit methane and volatile organic compound emissions from their operations.

The production of oil and natural gas is the largest source of methane pollution in the United States. If successful, the resolution would largely reinstate the 2012 and 2016 Oil and Natural Gas New Source Performance Standards that were put in place by the Obama administration.

Those regulations set limits on the amount of methane that can be released during the production and processing of oil and natural gas; and the amount of methane and VOCs that can be released during its transmission and storage. Climate scientists says such requirements are key to combatting the climate crisis.

“Time is of the essence in this fight to combat the climate crisis,” DeGette said. “If we’re serious about wanting to stave off the worst effects of climate change before it’s too late, then we absolutely have to take steps now to reduce the amount of methane that’s being released into our atmosphere.”

“The Trump Administration’s decision to rollback methane standards hurt our communities and the planet,” Peters said. “Methane and other super pollutants are more harmful than carbon dioxide and cause some of the greatest damage to our environment. The resolution we introduced underlines the EPA’s existing authority to regulate methane emissions – a critical and immediate step to tackle the climate crisis.”

Methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas—causing 84 times the global warming of an equal quantity of carbon dioxide over two decades after emission—and the oil and gas industry is the largest emitter of methane in the United States.

About 25% of human-caused global warming to date can be attributed to methane emissions, and co-located methane and VOC emissions exacerbate the already large air quality and human health impacts of fossil fuel development on frontline communities. This creates climate-related health effects for the most vulnerable - children, the elderly, and those with low-socioeconomic statuses. 

In addition to DeGette, Peters and Lamb, the resolution is cosponsored by Reps. 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 resolution was introduced in the Senate today by U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM).

Click here for a PDF of the resolution.