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Repeal Of Obama-era Methane Emission Limits Narrowly Fails In Senate

Methane flaring.
WildEarth Guardians (CC-BY-ND-ND-2)
Methane flaring.

The U.S. Senate could not muster enough votes Wednesday to undo rules designed to reduce methane pollution.

Senators voted 51-49 Wednesday against an attempt to eliminate an Obama-era rule to limit methane emissions from oil and gas production facilities on federal and tribal lands.

Montana Democratic Senator Jon Tester supports the methane waste rule and voted against the attempt to overturn it:

“It’s one of these no-brainer decisions that we can help save the resource, utilize the resource to help heat our homes or even power vehicles. Why should we waste it? We should be working through ways to create innovation to capture this gas and move it into the marketplace.”

The methane measure was designed to curb what’s sometimes called ‘flaring’, where producers burn off excess gas they can’t process or sell.

Critics say it’s not only wasteful, but dumps methane, a significant greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere.

The oil and gas industry calls the Obama-era regulation a vast overreach of Executive Branch authority.

Montana’s Republican Senator, Steve Daines Wednesday voted to roll-back the federal methane rule, but that effort was stymied by three Republicans: John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Susan Collins who joined Democrats.

That’s doesn’t mean the industry’s fight is over. The effort to overturn the methane rule will now likely cross the desk of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, but virtually no one expects a ruling anytime soon.

Copyright 2020 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.

Edward O'Brien is Montana Public Radio's Associate News Director.