Passing The Methane CRA Is Significant Progress In Protecting Public Health, Tackling The Climate Crisis
Washington, D.C. – On Wednesday, April 28, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Angus King (I-ME) and Ed Markey (D-MA) championed the Senate passage of S.J. Res. 14, a resolution that disapproves the Methane Rescission Rule, as provided by the Congressional Review Act. The disapproval resolution nullifies the Trump administration’s 2020 Methane Rescission Rule and reinstates EPA standards for methane emissions from the oil and gas industry and the regulation of air pollution from transmission and storage facilities. The measure passed by a vote of 52 to 42.
Despite data showing large increases in methane emissions from oil and gas production in recent years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Trump administration completed a rollback of critical methane emissions regulations created during the Obama administration that weakened and, in some cases, eliminated altogether requirements that oil and natural gas companies limit methane and volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from their operations.
Under the CRA, which allows Congress to review and disapprove certain federal regulations, the resolution of disapproval of the 2020 Methane Rescission Rule under the Trump administration would largely reinstate the 2012 and 2016 Oil and Natural Gas New Source Performance Standards (NSPS). Specifically, the CRA would reinstate the methane requirements for the industry’s production and processing segments and the methane and VOC requirements for the transmission and storage segments.
“As Senate Majority Leader, I pledged Democrats would make combatting climate change a top priority in the Senate, and today we secured a major victory by restoring critical regulations on the release of toxic methane pollution from oil and gas production,” said Majority Leader Schumer. “With today’s vote, we are reversing the Trump-era decision to roll back limits on methane and taking one of the most significant climate actions in the last 10 years. Last week, President Biden set an ambitious goal for the U.S. to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by the end of the decade, and this is the first of many important steps the Senate will take to achieve that goal.”
“Today, Congress put a down payment on the fight against the climate crisis,” said Heinrich. “I’m proud to champion this effort in the Senate so that Congress can restore responsible controls on methane emissions – a leading contributor to climate change. It’s time to keep moving forward with real, meaningful actions that leave our children with a healthier planet.”
“Today’s vote is a victory for our climate, our public health, and our future,” said King. “Methane is an incredibly potent greenhouse gas, which traps more than 80 times as much atmospheric heat as carbon dioxide. In addition, the gas is tied to a number of serious health problems that affect vulnerable populations across the nation. The problem is serious – but fortunately, there is an easy, commonsense solution that has drawn support from both environmental groups and fossil fuel companies. Today’s action in the Senate reinstates critical regulations on methane emissions, correcting last year’s dangerous misstep that put the short-term interests of polluters ahead the long-term health of our environment. This is a monumental moment in the fight against climate change – but it must be the first step of many. In the weeks and months ahead, Congress must continue to advance bold policies that address the crisis of climate change and protect this planet for our children and grandchildren.”
“Cutting methane emissions will help curb immediate global warming, save lives, prevent costly trips to emergency rooms, and show the world that the United States is ready to once again lead in combatting the climate crisis,” said Markey. “If we are going to put out the fire of our climate crisis, we have to stop lighting the matches of methane pollution. Methane pollutes our land, our lungs, and our lives, and today’s vote is a decisive victory for our planet.”
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.
More and more leading companies in the oil and gas industry have come forward to say that they would welcome reinstating the EPA’s methane emissions standards, including Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, Shell US, BP, Equinor North America, Total USA, EQT Corporation, Equitrans Midstream Corporation, and Cheniere Energy Inc.
In addition to Heinrich, Schumer, King, Markey, and Collins, the resolution is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Tina Smith (D-MN), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Bob Casey (D-PA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Gary Peters (D-MI) and Susan Collins (R-ME).
U.S. Representative Diana DeGette (D-CO) is the sponsor of a companion resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Click here for a PDF of the resolution.