In win for environmentalists, Senate keeps an Obama-era climate change rule

The New York Times reports: In a surprising victory for President Barack Obama’s environmental legacy, the Senate voted on Wednesday to uphold an Obama-era climate change regulation to control the release of methane from oil and gas wells on public land.

Senators voted 51 to 49 to block consideration of a resolution to repeal the 2016 Interior Department rule to curb emissions of methane, a powerful planet-warming greenhouse gas. Senators John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Susan Collins of Maine, all Republicans who have expressed concern about climate change and backed legislation to tackle the issue, broke with their party to join Democrats and defeat the resolution.

The vote also marked the first, and probably the only, defeat of a stream of resolutions over the last four months — pursued through the once-obscure Congressional Review Act — to unwind regulations approved late in the Obama administration.

In anticipation of Republican defections, President Trump sent Vice President Mike Pence to the Senate floor to break a tie vote. But with three members of his own party breaking away, Mr. Pence stood aside.

“We were surprised and thrilled to win on this,” said Tiernan Sittenfeld, senior vice president of the League of Conservation Voters, which, along with other environmental groups, has been lobbying Republicans for weeks to vote against the repeal of the methane rule. “This is clearly a huge win for our health and our climate.” [Continue reading…]

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