“Most Important Climate Vote in years..”

April 28, 2021

This morning,

Washington Post:

THE SENATE votes Wednesday on what sounds like an arcane regulatory question. In fact, Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) argued Tuesday, “This is the most important climate vote that the Senate has had, maybe ever.”

The question indeed sounds technical: whether to use the Congressional Review Act to reverse a Trump administration rollback of Environmental Protection Agency rules on methane emissions in the oil and gas sector. But the vote will be an early indication of Congress’s seriousness about addressing global warming — and, by the same token, the depth of irrational opposition to action. A positive result would show the world that the United States has returned to sanity on one of the most pressing issues requiring global action. A negative vote — or passage by only a slim majority — would send a less encouraging signal.

The Obama administration developed rules to deal with methane, which is the primary component of natural gas. When burned, methane produces about half the amount of carbon dioxide as coal, so it can be a useful bridge to a non-carbon future. But if methane wafts into the air uncombusted, it is an extremely potent greenhouse agent on its own. It is shorter-lived than carbon dioxide, but it traps heat about 84 times more efficiently over 20 years. So methane leaks in drilling and transporting natural gas can negate the climate benefits of switching from coal to gas to generate electricity.

Unlike many environmental problems, the answer to this one is easy: require drillers, pipeline companies, storage tank operators and others to minimize methane leaks all along the natural gas supply chain. These companies can sell the gas they save, offsetting the cost of more conscientious maintenance. This logic is so compelling that many oil and gas companies support federal methane regulations.

One of the most irrational moments in President Donald Trump’s anti-environmental frenzy came last August, when his administration moved to cut requirements that natural gas equipment installed after 2015 be inspected every six months and that any leaks be repaired within 30 days of detection. The Senate’s Wednesday vote would halt the Trump rollback using the Congressional Review Act, which provides lawmakers a streamlined process to reverse recent executive branch regulatory decisions.

This afternoon..

Politico:

The Senate on Wednesday voted to reverse the Trump administration’s rollback of a crucial Obama-era climate regulation, delivering a bipartisan victory for President Joe Biden’s lofty goals of curbing heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

The 52-42 vote, including three yeas from Republicans, would restore the Obama administration’s 2016 restrictions on the potent greenhouse gas methane. Democrats passed it using a legislative maneuver that allows them to get around the Senate’s filibuster rules — and had unusually robust support from many oil and gas industry companies, which now support direct methane regulations amid mounting international pressure for cleaner production.

So is 52-42 a good enough signal?

2 Responses to ““Most Important Climate Vote in years..””

  1. Don Osborn Says:

    While I applaud the 3 lone Repubs, Note that on this simple, clearly needed, and minimal step it was ONLY 3 Repubs. This should have had an overwhelming support from BOTH sides. But NO …

  2. mboli Says:

    What do people have against FREEDOM? The Trump administration liberated the methane. Fly away, you little molecules of freedom, fly!


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