GOP Plan To Use Filibuster-Proof Resolutions To Wipe Out Obama Era Coal Regs

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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Republican lawmakers are gearing up to vote on resolutions to dismantle strict regulations on coal and methane implemented by the Obama administration.

Department of the Interior rules protecting streams from coal mining waste and cutting methane emissions at oil and natural gas drilling sites will be targeted by House Republicans next week. Republicans want to use the Congressional Review Act resolutions to attack the Obama administration’s last minute rules.

Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah, who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee, called the last minute rules “abusive” during a press conference announcing his colleagues’ intentions.

“Congress has an obligation to ensure executive actions are consistent with congressional intent, and that agencies operate in accordance with their statutory mandate,” he said. “When they don’t, and in this case they haven’t, it is our responsibility to act.”

The rule aims to reduce flaring or venting of natural gas being pulled out of federal lands and clarifies when companies have to pay the government when flaring gas. It’s part of Obama’s push to meet his pledge to the UN to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent by 2025 as part of the Paris climate change agreement.

The drilling industry, meanwhile, said the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) so-called venting and flaring rule is too costly and would be the death knell for the natural gas and coal industry.

Various groups have sued the Obama administration over the cascade of rules hammering the energy industry. The Western Energy Alliance and the Independent Petroleum Association of America, for instance, sued the BLM over the rule last year. They argued the rules contradict standing rules on natural gas flaring.

The GOP has majorities in the House and Senate, making the filibuster-proof CRA resolutions almost a sure bet to pass Congress. The bills would then go to President Donald Trump to sign or veto — the president is a critic of Obama’s environmental regulations, so the resolutions should have an easy march through the process.

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