REDWOOD CITY, CALIFORNIA (care2.com) - There have been very few victories for the environment ever since Donald Trump took to the White House, but finally, the planet received some good news: thanks to a surprising Senate vote, Barack Obamaís regulations on methane emissions will remain intact.
Methane is a greenhouse gas thatís more than 80 times worse for the earth than carbon dioxide. As it stands, the energy industry lets 10 million metric tons of methane annually. Obamaís executive order restricts how much methane could be released, but the GOP wanted to strike any limitations on methane despite its effect on the environment.
When a president signs an executive order, Congress has the option of using the Congressional Review Act to overturn that rule as a form of check-and-balance. Since Trump took office, Congress has utilized this power at least 11 times, many of which focused on the former presidentís environmental policies.
Pundits expected Republicans to remain in lockstep on this one, too, but instead, the vote was 49-51. Along with every Democrat, Lindsey Graham, Susan Collins and John McCain were the Republican senators who commendably opposed the bill. Most people did not see McCainís vote coming and his colleagues spent the moments leading up to the vote trying to change his mind.
The important thing to realize about the Congressional Review Act is that it indefinitely closes the door to passing similar rules in the future. In other words, the 49 Republicans who did vote for this bill were indicating that they were so willing to stick it to Obama that they didnít care whether methane leaks couldnít be properly regulated in the future. Thatís just plain stupid and dangerous.
In fact, thatís why McCain says he decided to vote against the bill. While he claims to not be a fan of the methane rules as they stand, heís worried that nothing could be done about methane problems in the future. Instead, he expressed a preference to see the existing regulations modified.
The good news is that Congress wonít get another shot at eliminating the methane regulations in the future. The Senate has just 60 legislative days following an executive order being issued to use the Congressional Review Act, and that time expired on 5/11.
Maintaining the methane rules is certainly a victory for the planet, but the truth is that there will be plenty more assaults on the environment to come from Republicans. Celebrate this success, then remain vigilant for the many battles to come.
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Updated 43 days ago Article ID# 4163479