U.S. Senate to start undoing Trump’s methane rules

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U.S. Senate Democrats will begin using a special procedure to undo parts of Donald Trump’s regulatory agenda Wednesday, starting by rescinding a measure that made it harder for the Environmental Protection Agency to limit leaks of methane from oil and gas wells.

The vote on the methane rule is the first of several that Democrats plan to use under the Congressional Review Act. That 1996 law allows lawmakers to rescind federal regulations passed in the waning days of a presidential administration as long as they act within a few months of a new Congress.

It had been used only once before 2017 when Republicans, led by then-President Donald Trump, used it to repeal 14 Obama-era rules including one that limited the ability of the mentally ill to buy firearms to another forcing oil companies to disclose their payments to foreign governments.

It only takes a majority vote, meaning Democrats, who control the Senate, can do it without Republican votes.

The measure to repeal Trump’s methane rule has the support of Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine as well as some oil and gas producers, such as Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Equinor ASA, Cheniere Energy Inc. and Pioneer Natural Resources Company.

Trump’s methane rule, finalized in 2020, ended methane-specific emission limits at new oil and gas wells, while removing additional curbs on leaks of smog-causing volatile organic compounds from gas transmission and storage equipment.

“If we can pass this tomorrow it would be the most significant climate change bill that we have passed in a number of years,” said Senator Angus King, a Maine Independent who is a sponsor of the resolution. “This is an enormous opportunity for this country.”

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