Congress Targets CSAPR, Stream Protection Rule, and Methane Rule with CRA

UPDATED 03.02.2017 to reflect that H.J. Res. 38 became Pub. L. 115-5.

Congress took action last week toward repealing the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule Update (CSAPR Update), the Stream Protection Rule, and the Methane and Waste Protection Rule, all using the Congressional Review Act (CRA).  As we previously reported, the CRA allows Congress to pass joint resolutions for disapproval of certain final agency rules by a simple majority vote in both chambers.  On Friday, February 3, 2017, Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) introduced a CRA resolution that would repeal EPA’s CSAPR Update.  The Update sets new summer-time nitrogen oxide emissions budgets for 22 eastern states, and is also the subject of an appeal in the D.C. Circuit.  S.J. Res. 21 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

In addition, both the House and Senate voted to repeal the Stream Protection Rule, 81 Fed. Reg. 93,066, issued by the Department of the Interior in December 2016 and updating regulations for surface and underground mining operations relating to the water quality of nearby streams.  H.J. Res. 38, introduced by Representative Bill Johnson (R-OH), passed in the House on a vote of 228 to 194, and in the Senate by a vote of 54 to 45.  The President is expected to sign the resolution into law.  The resolution became Public Law 115-5 on February 16, 2017.

The House also passed a joint resolution late last week to repeal the Methane and Waste Prevention Rule, 81 Fed. Reg. 83,008, issued by the Bureau of Land Management in November 2016.  The rule requires oil and gas producers to limit flaring and venting at wells on public and tribal lands. (Flaring refers to the practice of disposing of gas by burning it off at production sites or processing plants; venting refers to releasing gas directly into the atmosphere.)  Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT) introduced H.J. Res. 36, and it passed with a vote of 221 to 191.  The resolution has not yet been scheduled for a vote in the Senate.

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