Climate + Energy

Climate Spared From Congressional Chopping Block


In a stunning win for the climate, clean air, and just for people and the planet in general, yesterday, the Senate voted 51-49  to keep rules in place to curtail carbon pollution from fracking operations on our public lands.

The significance of this win can’t be overstated.  In this era of Trump, the fossil fuel industry is calling the shots, climate denial reigns, and Congress (Democrats and Republicans both) have already axed other regulations to protect us from the dangers of fossil fuels.

Yesterday, the Senate was weighing whether to wield the Congressional Review Act to repeal limits on venting and flaring from oil and gas operations on public lands.

The Congressional Review Act is already under fire for being unconstitutional, but using it to gut limits on venting and flaring was a head-scratcher.  The rules are absurdly effective and affordable, and stand to keep a tremendous amount of methane–a potent greenhouse gas—out of the air while keeping more oil and gas in the pipelines for industry to profit from.

Yesterday, legal and environmental academics wrote a letter to Senate Leaders Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer, highlighting how using the Congressional Review Act would basically destroy the ability of the federal government to oversee the oil and gas industry.  Read the letter here.

Congress’ push was clearly driven by climate denial and some bizarre oil and gas industry desire to waste its own product.  Thankfully, this insanity was put to rest, at least for the time being.

Yesterday’s win was the first Congressional Review Act defeat for Trump during this Congress.  It’s a positive sign that perhaps some members of Congress won’t just serve as rubber stamps to the President’s anti-environmental agenda.  Three Republicans — Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John McCain of Arizona — sided with Democrats who voted against moving ahead with the measure.

methane rule

Photo courtesy of C-SPAN.

While the battle is certainly not over, this victory sends a powerful message to Congress that the American people will not stand for being steamrolled by the oil and gas industry.