16 May 2017

Did Not Expect This

It looks like Senate Republicans could not muster the votes to repeal an Obama administration rule on methane emissions:
Some Republican lawmakers balked at fully embracing the Trump administration’s climate skepticism Wednesday, as the Senate failed to kill an Obama-era plan for containing methane emissions that had deep support among environmental activists and many landowners in the West.

Three Republican senators joined Democrats in blocking the effort to kill the methane restrictions that the GOP congressional leadership had been confident it could scuttle. The push to scrap the methane rules faltered amid an uprising of protest in Western states, where tens of thousands of residents near drilling operations risk exposure to the toxic compounds that leak in tandem with the methane.

At issue is 41 billion cubic feet of a greenhouse gas leaking from many of the nearly 100,000 oil and gas wells on federally owned land. Methane is among the most potent accelerators of global warming, 25 times more harmful than carbon dioxide.

A House vote in March to eliminate an Obama-era Bureau of Land Management rule requiring energy firms to trap the escaping gas and convert it to electricity was followed by a swift public backlash. Several Republican senators wavered on the measure in recent weeks.
I don't think that this vote was about pissed off land owners in the west, as none of the Senators who flipped, Collins (R-ME), Graham (R-SC), and McCain (R-AZ) are from states where potential landowner objections to leaky gas wells are not a huge factor.

I think that more prosaic political considerations are taking place here:  McCain and Graham clearly detest Trump, and Collins needs to pretend to be liberal every now and then in order to secure her political popularity in Maine.

Still, it's a win for the good guys.


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