May 10, 2017 - Energy & Environment

Surprise defeat: Senate fails to repeal Obama methane rule

Steven Senne / AP

The GOP-controlled Senate Wednesday morning failed to repeal an Obama-era regulation that curbs methane emissions from gas wells on public and tribal lands, a major win for environmental advocates. The final vote was 51 "nays" to 49 "yays." The last day to use the CRA is at the end of the week.

  • What it means: The November 2016 Interior Department rule will stay in place, although the department has said it will review the regulation, as required by an executive order Trump signed.
  • Get smart: This victory by environmentalists is more symbolically important than substantively impactful; public lands account for a small portion of domestic drilling — 11% of the nation's natural gas supply and 5% of its oil supply — according to Interior Department data.
  • The hiccup: Lindsey Graham, Susan Collins, and John McCain voted along with the Democrats. McCain's vote was a surprise.
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