Editor's note: this story was updated at 11:12 a.m. CST on May 10, 2017.
In a blow to administration efforts to free the oil and gas industry from Obama-era environmental rules, a Senate resolution to revoke a rule to limit leaks and flaring of methane from oil and gas production on federal lands fell short of votes 49-51.
The surprise vote outcome came after Republican leaders scrambled for weeks to secure the 51 votes necessary to pass the Congressional Review Act resolution, which would revoke the rule and prevent any similar regulations from being introduced.
Getting the Trump administration to repeal the Bureau of Land Management methane rule had been a top priority of the oil and gas industry, but not all Republicans supported the measure because it would make it difficult to regulate methane waste in the future.
Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) President and CEO Barry Russell issued a statement following the vote, saying: “We’re disappointed the Senate wasn’t able to stop President Obama’s unworkable rule by a federal agency that does not have the Congressionally-granted authority to regulate air quality. This overreaching rule puts independent producers—many of which are small family-run businesses with limited resources—on the hook for complying with the costly burdens of a flawed regulation. This regulation will particularly impact small-producing, marginal wells located on federal lands. Shutting-in these smaller wells means less royalties will get sent back to the federal Treasury. These federal dollars are vital for many western economies and are used to fund state and local priorities, such as education and infrastructure projects like roads and bridges.”
Russell said that his organization plans to work with the Department of the Interior to develop a “targeted, meaningful solution that will achieve the common goal of ensuring the American taxpayers receive a fair and equitable return in the form of royalties while developing a safe, workable regulation, instead of this one-size-fits-all approach.”