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Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On The Senate Taking A Major Step To Combat Climate Change By Reinstating Safeguards Against Methane Emissions

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the floor regarding today’s vote to re-impose commonsense regulations against methane leaks from the oil and gas industry. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks which can also be viewed here:

At the start of the year, the Senate Democrats pledged that one of our top priorities would be tackling climate change. I directed all of our incoming committee chairs to hold hearings and prepare legislation on the climate crisis. I promised that any infrastructure bill would be green, and focus on creating the green jobs of the future. Both of these efforts, I’m happy to report, are well underway.

And today, as we approach the 100-day mark of this new Congress, the Senate will take the first, major step in combatting climate change on the Senate floor by reinstating safeguards against methane emissions.

Specifically, today’s vote will use the Congressional Review Act to re-impose commonsense regulations against methane leaks from the oil and gas industry; from production and processing to transmission and storage.

And let me note this will be the first time the Senate Democratic majority has used the Congressional Review Act. It is no mistake that we have chosen to use the law—first—on the subject of climate change.

Under this Democratic majority, the Senate will be a place where we take decisive, ambitious, and effective action against climate change.

And this CRA—the reinstatement of the rule dealing with methane emissions—will be the most significant act that the Senate has taken on climate change in more than a decade and maybe several decades. This measure will help us address the climate crisis in a very serious way.

Methane doesn’t get as much attention as carbon dioxide, but it packs a bigger punch. Over twenty years, a ton of methane warms the atmosphere 86 times more than carbon dioxide. Thankfully, methane degrades faster in our atmosphere, and curbing methane emissions is relatively cheap. So when it comes to global warming, tackling methane delivers a huge bang for your buck. Even a little bit of methane reduction goes a long way and it moves far more quickly than carbon dioxide reduction.

So as we move on this bill, which will have effect on global warming within a year, it gives us some time, although we don't have much, to deal with the longer-term and even more difficult issues of carbon dioxide.

That’s why President Obama put the rules in place nearly 6 years ago. At the time, amazingly enough, even the oil and gas industry welcomed them. Industry doesn’t want leaks in their pipelines and production any more than we do.

But President Trump, inexplicably, did away with these safeguards last September. It seems he does these things out of pique—mindlessly opposing something just because his predecessor Barack Obama did it. It's very possible that the president didn't even understand what he was doing, but he so often acted out of anger and vindictiveness, not out of what was good for the country, that he ended up doing this.

I am greatly looking forward to righting that wrong today—hopefully, in a bipartisan fashion. We have at least one Republican Senator who has joined us and I hope that more—many more—will follow suit.

If the leaders of the oil and gas industry are for this, how could our Republican friends not vote for it? I won’t speculate on the reasons, but none of them are good. I want to commend my colleagues who have been leaders on this issue: Senator Heinrich, Senator King, and Senator Markey.

President Biden has challenged the United States to cut its greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030. The best way to achieve this ambitious goal is through bold action by this Congress—through legislation—to reduce greenhouse pollution while creating millions of jobs and economic prosperity in the new clean energy economy. This is the first, and large, step in that direction. We have many more steps we must take, of course.

The Senate begins the important work of dealing with the climate crisis today by passing these very, very significant, commonsense rules on methane.