Key Vote: Stream Rule and BLM Methane CRAs

This week, the House of Representatives is set to vote on two Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolutions aimed at repealing Obama regulations limiting responsible coal and natural gas production. The resolutions would nullify the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) regulation for methane venting and flaring and the Interior Department’s Stream Protection Rule (SPR). We urge Representatives to vote YES on both resolutions.

The Congressional Review Act allows for Congress to halt certain regulatory actions. Congress can pass a joint resolution of disapproval for a rule within 60 legislative days of publication and prohibit agencies from enacting any substantially similar rules. The BLM methane rule and the Interior Department Stream Protection Rule, which were finalized in November and December of 2016, are prime examples of costly regulatory excess and are ripe for review under the CRA. According to the American Action Forum, these two rules combined will cost $3.5 billion.

The BLM methane rule would require the oil and gas sector to take unnecessarily costly measures to reduce methane emissions on federal lands by up to 45 percent by 2025. However the rule would reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by a mere 0.0092 percent, making this “all economic pain for no environmental gain” rule the poster child for excessive and unnecessary government regulation.

Furthermore, this regulation ignores the significant strides that the industry is already making. According to the EPA, methane emissions fell by 13 percent from 2011—2014—a time when natural gas production significantly increased. In addition, methane emissions from hydraulic fracturing fell by 81 percent from 2012—2014. We don’t need a federal regulation to force oil and gas producers to control their methane emissions—methane itself is a versatile fuel source and valuable commodity.

Similarly, the Interior Department’s Stream Protection Rule is an unnecessary federal regulation. The SPR is largely duplicative—the EPA and Fish and Wildlife Service already administer many of the Interior Department’s new regulatory changes. The Department of Interior’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement estimates that the SPR would lead to additional annual compliance costs of $52 million. According to some estimates, the SPR could put over 280,000 jobs at risk, including up to 78,000 in the coal mining industry. This regulation would have the largest impact on the people of West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania—states that have already endured years of costly regulations from the Obama administration’s war on affordable and reliable energy.

The BLM methane rule and the Interior Department’s Stream Protection Rule are unnecessary regulations that will destroy jobs and make energy more expensive for American families. AEA will score both votes in its American Energy Scorecard. Representatives should vote YES on the CRA resolutions to repeal both the BLM’s methane rule and the Interior Department’s Stream Protection Rule.

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