In an effort to fight climate change, the Senate voted to reinstate 2016 regulations on methane emissions, reversing a Trump administration move to ease rules meant to cut emissions of the powerful greenhouse gas.
The act passed by a 52-42 margin, with Susan Collins, Lindsey Graham and Rob Portman being the only Republican senators to vote yes.
On Wednesday, Democrats used a provision called the Congressional Review Act to overturn the Trump team’s regulatory decision. The act allows Congress to overturn rules put into place by the previous administration within 60 legislative days of its enactment with a simple majority vote in both chambers of Congress and the new president’s signature. Review act votes cannot be filibustered, meaning they can pass the Senate with only a simple majority.
This is the first time Democrats have used the law, the Times reports. Republicans in the Senate, however, used the law 14 times at the start of the Trump presidency to roll back Obama-era regulations, including those that were designed to limit harmful greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas wells.
According to a new study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, “cutting methane emissions could slow the rate of the Earth’s warming as much as 30 percent,” the LA Times reported.
“If we do this, if we stop venting, if we stop flaring, if we stop leaking at the wellhead, if we stop leaking in the pipelines that connect the rest of the country, we can have an enormous impact on how much our atmosphere warms,” member of the Senate Energy Committee and co-sponsor of the bill, Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM), said before today’s vote.
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said today’s move is just the start of enacting President Biden’s climate goals.
“Last week, President Biden set an ambitious goal for the U.S. to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by the end of the decade. This is the first of many steps, many important steps the Senate will take to achieve that goal,” Schumer said.
Democrats in Congress are also drafting legislation to combat climate change, like the Green New Deal and the new THRIVE Act, which would put massive investments into green jobs and initiatives.
At the global climate summit last week, Biden said taking action to counteract climate change is “a moral and economic imperative.” Speaking to an audience of global leaders, he said, “This is a moment for all of us to build better economies for our children, our grandchildren, and all of us to thrive… not just now, but beyond for the next generations.”