McCain sides with environmental wackos on methane rule
Sen. John McCain on Wednesday handed Republican leadership and President Trump a stinging legislative defeat as he cast a surprise deciding vote to maintain an Obama-era regulation limiting methane emissions from oil and gas wells.This is a mistake. If the repeal of the onerous regulations leads to a problem the Congress could have changed the rules through legislation in the future rather than some unelected bureaucrats. Thing one of the assumptions behind the rule is questionable. It appears to assume that businesses would willing waste their product rather than collect it for sale.
It was the first time the White House and congressional Republicans failed to rewrite or overturn environmental regulations put into place by the previous administration. That regulatory rollback, until Wednesday, united the party.
The Bureau of Land Management rule, put into place in November, has been in Republican crosshairs for months. The House has voted to eliminate the rule through the Congressional Review Act, a law that lets Congress unwind some recent regulations.
The Senate was expected to follow suit and deliver a win not just for Republican leadership and the administration, but also for their allies in the oil and gas industry. Instead, Mr. McCain and two fellow Republicans — Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Susan M. Collins of Maine — joined all 48 Democrats in voting against the measure, leading to its defeat in a 51-49 vote.
In a statement after the vote, Mr. McCain said the rule, while flawed, is important. Repealing it through the Congressional Review Act would limit future administrations from implementing similar measures.
“I join the call for strong action to reduce pollution from venting, flaring and leaks associated with oil and gas production operations on public and Indian land. While I am concerned that the BLM rule may be onerous, passage of the resolution would have prevented the federal government, under any administration, from issuing a rule that is ‘similar,’ according to the plain reading of the Congressional Review Act,” the Arizona Republican said.