President Joe Biden signed a Resolution of Disapproval to repeal the Trump administration’s 2020 Methane Rescission Rule. The rule had been put in place on Nov 16th 2020 to loosen the requirements of oil and gas producers to curb methane emissions from any new, or newly modified wells in the US.
Biden reinstated two key Obama-government methane-emission rules (removed previously by the Trump administration), imposing stricter limits on the amount of methane that the oil and gas industry can release from their drilling sites.
“(President Barack Obama) in 2016 and I put in place a rule that required that companies capture methane leaks from the wells they were digging…Well, guess what, they didn’t,” Biden said before signing the bill.
Now, with the new law introduced by Biden, fossil fuel producers will, once again, have to comply with the 2012 and 2016 Oil and Natural Gas New Source Performance Standards. This climate change law is expected to reduce methane emissions from drilling sites across the country.
It has been estimated that almost one-third of all methane emissions in the US are released from the production of oil and natural gas.
The bill signed on June 30th 2021, was passed by the House of Representatives last week with the vote coming in at 229-191 – all Democrats gave support to the bill along with 12 Republicans that also backed it.
The vote in the Senate was 52-42. It passed the resolution at the end of April under the Congressional Review Act that allows Congress to re-establish regulations imposed by the executive branch.
The act allows Congress to rescind within 60 legislative days a regulation put in place by an administration without having to clear the 60-vote threshold in the Senate that is necessary for most regulations.
Additional Methane Emissions Policies
In addition to Biden’s methane emissions regulation, a separate piece of legislation has been introduced by Congresswoman Diana DeGette in March. The regulation is known as the Methane Waste Prevention Act of 2021 and requires the US fossil-fuel companies operating on public lands to cut their methane emissions by at least 90% by 2030.
The rule is expected to further strengthen the Obama methane emissions regulations and impose even stricter limits on the amount of methane being released from oil and gas sites across the country.
As methane emissions are 80 times more potent than CO2 in causing the warming of the planet for the 20 years they stay in the atmosphere, a climate change policy is put in place to limit their impact.
So far climate change USA regulations for methane emissions have been weak, however, the Biden administration has rolled up its sleeves to help mitigate the worst effects of global warming.