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Congress votes to restore Obama-era methane standards backed by Big Oil

Ailan Evans, DCNF

The House of Representatives voted Friday to restore Obama-era methane emissions standards in a move backed by major oil and gas corporations, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Acting under the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to void federal regulations, the House voted to eliminate Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules issued last year under the Trump administration. The rules had removed methane emissions restrictions on the transmission and storage segments of the oil and gas industry, as well eased restrictions on the producing and processing of the fuels.

President Joe Biden is expected to sign the measure, the WSJ reported.

American Petroleum Institute (API), the largest oil and gas lobbying group, expressed its support for the decision, as did British Petroleum (BP).

“As policymakers discuss a path forward for methane regulation, API is focused on working with the administration in support of the direct regulation of methane for new and existing sources through a new rulemaking process,” an API spokeswoman told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

“We’re pleased that Congress recognizes the importance of this objective, and we encourage the president to sign the resolution,” Mary Streett, senior vice president of communications & advocacy for BP, said in a statement to the DCNF. “Keeping methane in the pipes is good for the planet and for business.”

Smaller petroleum companies say the Obama-era methane emissions standards unfairly target smaller producers. The Independent Petroleum Association of America, representing low-production oil wells, said in a fact sheet that the Obama-era regulatory framework was “economically infeasible for low production wells and provides minimal environmental benefits.”

API did not comment on how the resolution would affect its smaller members.

Major petroleum companies have previously come out in support of regulations on methane emissions in April, when the Senate voted to restore methane emissions.

“We need to restore the direct federal regulation #methane emissions–and we urge Congress to approve the methane resolution under the Congressional Review Act,” Shell tweeted.

“Ensuring that natural gas continues to provide climate benefits means reducing emissions from its production. We support the methane resolution under the Congressional Review Act. Direct federal methane regulation is an important step on the pathway to net-zero,” Equinor said in a tweet.

The Biden administration included methane in its list of non-CO2 greenhouse gases to target in meeting its 2030 greenhouse gas reduction goal.

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