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The Senate votes to restore methane regulation, a climate-warming gas from the time of Obama

The Senate votes to restore methane regulation, a climate-warming gas

April 30, 2021: -On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate voted to reverse former President Donald Trump’s steps to weaken Obama-era regulations designed to decrease climate-changing methane emissions from fields of oil and gas.

The 52-42 vote sets up the first official reinstatement of one of the above 100 climate regulations dismantled by the Trump administration. Regulating methane is critical for advancing President Joe Biden’s goal to slash greenhouse gas emissions of the U.S. in half from 2005 levels over the coming decade and achieve a net-zero economy by 2050.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Sens. Martin Heinrich, D-NM, Angus King, I-ME, and Edward Markey, D-Mass., raised the resolution under the Congressional Review Act, a law allowing Congress to overturn a previous administration’s regulations quickly with a simple majority vote and president’s signature.

The Democratic-held House will approve the measure and send it to President Joe Biden. The White House supports the passage of the bill, according to a statement of the Office of Management and Budget on Tuesday.

If the bill is passed, it reinstates the Oil and Natural Gas New Source Performance Standards of 2012 and 2016 set by the Obama administration.

Before the Senate vote, Schumer said in a briefing that voting was one of the most important steps Congress can take up climate change. “This is a huge deal,” Schumer said. “Methane is the most poisonous thing we can put in our atmosphere.”

Three Republican senators voted for the bill. Biden, on his first day in an executive order, directed the Environmental Protection Agency to change Trump’s methane rollback and propose new regulations for industry producers.

Trump’s effort to dismantle the rule was a win for the oil and gas industry, comprising around 30% of the methane emissions of the U.S. Smaller oil and gas companies and fossil fuel lobbyists supporting Trump’s rollback have argued that methane regulations are expensive.

The Senate vote was also appreciated by scientists and environmental groups who have always said curbing methane emissions is avoiding the worst impacts of climate change. Methane is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide and accounts for 10% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

Such a sustained increase in emissions could heat the atmosphere by 3 to 4 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, higher than the Paris climate accord target to keep warming below 2 degrees.

A new study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters suggests that a push to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas industry, agriculture other human sources could slow global warming by as much as 30%.

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