Congress Moves to Pull Back Unlawful Methane Repeal

Joint resolution will restore pollution protections and set the stage for sensible new standards that all sides agree are needed.

March 25, 2021
Jon Coifman, (917) 575-1885,
Matt McGee, (512) 691-3478,

(Washington, D.C.) Lawmakers in the Senate today introduced a joint resolution to reverse the unlawful repeal of methane regulations in the waning days of the previous administration. The measure would immediately restore critical climate and public health protections, and help clear a thicket of legal and bureaucratic red tape that would otherwise delay development of sensible new safeguards supported by industry and environmental organizations to limit methane emissions from the oil and gas sector.

“This resolution stands for the simple and non-controversial proposition that methane from the oil and gas sector is a major challenge that requires urgent action,” said Dan Grossman, Senior Director of Regulatory and Legislative Affairs at Environmental Defense Fund. “After the chaos and uncertainty of the last four years, all sides want to clear a pathway to solve the problem. This immediately restores critical climate and health safeguards, and provides EPA a clean slate to get common-sense, cost-effective rules on the books as soon as possible.”

Support for reducing oil and gas methane emissions is widespread and bipartisan. A growing number of leading oil and gas companies, including Shell and BP, have expressed support for federal policies to reduce methane emissions. Even the American Petroleum Institute has signaled support for regulation in recent months.

At issue is a rule published last September that removed methane from the air pollution rules for oil and gas operations, repealed pollution protections for the transmission and storage of natural gas altogether, and sought to hinder emissions safeguards for hundreds of thousands of older facilities. Today’s resolution would immediately restore protections that reduce hundreds of thousands of tons of methane and smog-forming pollution each year.

The new resolution was introduced today by New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich who hails from a major oil and gas-producing state where methane is an important business and environmental challenge. He was joined by 15 cosponsors from across the country. A House version will be introduced tomorrow. Final votes on the measure are expected by mid-May.

Human-made methane emissions are responsible for at least a quarter of today’s warming. Reducing methane pollution from the oil and gas industry is the single fastest, most cost-effective way to slow the rate of warming now, even as we continue to decarbonize the energy system, while also cutting health-harming local air pollution for the millions of Americans who live near oil and gas operations.

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