Congress moves to repeal environmental regulations

January 30, 2017

On January 30, the House passed Joint Resolutions H.J.Res.38 and H.J.Res.36, expressing disapproval of the Stream Protection Rule and a rule regulating natural gas leaks. These Department of Interior (DOI) regulations are subject to termination under the Congressional Review Act.

The Congressional Review Act enables Congress to remove a rule within 60 days of its issuance. If a rule receives a majority disapproval vote, it can be eliminated. The Congressional Review Act prohibits agencies from reissuing withdrawn rules, removing the possibility of similar rules in the future.

The DOI Stream Protection Rule came into effect on December 19, 2016. This rule establishes new water monitoring standards for streams and groundwater near coal mines. It is the first major update to these standards in 30 years. Some members of Congress believe this rule threatens coal surface mining practices and wish to remove it.

The Bureau of Land Management’s rule to reduce methane emissions from oil and natural gas leaks, vents, and flares on public lands has received similar criticism. Congress members cite the cost of the rule to industry. The rule requires oil and gas companies operating on public land to identify and eliminate methane emissions.

The joint resolution for the Stream Protection Rule passed the House on February 1. On February 2 the Senate voted to repeal this rule. On February 6 President Trump signed the resolution into law. 

On February 3 the House has voted to revoke the natural gas leak rule. The Senate received the joint resolution on February 3.  As of March 6 the Senate has not voted on it.

Sources: U.S. Congress, Federal Register, House.gov

Last updated: 3/6/2017