The U.S. Senate failed this morning to repeal an Obama-era methane rule, instead voting to preserve regulations which limit oil and gas-related methane emissions on public lands.
Sen. Cory Gardner, who remained publicly neutral about his intentions and was expected to be a potential swing vote in the days leading up to the decision, voted in favor of repeal.
The Congressional Review Act resolution failed to pass, garnering just 49 votes. Republicans Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Caroline, Susan Collins of Maine and John McCain of Arizona joined Senate Democrats, including Sen. Michael Bennet, in voting against the resolution.
Bennet had this to say about the in a tweet:
— Michael F. Bennet (@SenBennetCO) May 10, 2017
Signed last November, the Bureau of Land Management Methane Waste Rule requires oil and gas operators to limit methane leaks and to capture, rather than vent or flare, waste methane. Methane is both a powerful greenhouse gas and a valuable commodity.
The oil and gas industry has criticized the rule as being overly burdensome and unnecessary, saying that drillers have already made progress towards reducing emissions, and that state regulations are sufficient to protect federal lands. Colorado had its own methane regulations on the books before the federal rule passed.
Colorado’s environmental groups, celebrating the outcome of the vote, are criticizing Gardner’s decision.
“Despite more than 10,000 emails and calls from Coloradans and multiple protests at his offices on this issue, Sen. Gardner managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by voting against Colorado’s clean air in what amounted to a futile vote for him,” said Pete Maysmith, director of Conservation Colorado. Maysmith called the Senate’s failure to repeal the rule “an incredible day for the environment and for citizens across the country.”
Jesse Prentice-Dunn, advocacy director for Center for Western Priorities, said in a statement on Tuesday before the vote, “This should be a clear cut issue for Senator Gardner.” He added, “If Senator Gardner votes to eliminate this common sense rule, it will be because oil and gas companies are cashing in their campaign checks.”
In that statement, Center for Western Priorities noted that Gardner has received more than $1 million in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry throughout his career.
Gardner’s spokesman did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.
Photo credit: Tim Hurst, Creative Commons, Flickr