Happy Friday. You made it. What now?
If you’re a member of the House of Representatives, you still have a vote on the repeal of Obama’s signature health care law to look forward to later today. While the whip count in the House continues, one thing that is clear is that next week’s Senate calendar will look a whole lot different if the House does not vote on repeal-and-replace legislation today.
The Senate has been holding the floor calendar open in anticipation of health care legislation coming over from the House, and at this moment it’s unclear what could take its place. One piece of unfinished business is the disapproval resolution on the Bureau of Land Management’s methane venting and flaring rule.
After eight years of retreat, it’s time for America to charge back into the energy-rich waters of the outer continental shelf and secure once and for all its rightful place as an energy superpower.
With his ambition to return America to its glory days and reassert the nation’s influence on the world stage, President Donald Trump would do well to start with energy security and a bottoms-up review of the energy policies put in place by his predecessor.
To do that, the president needs a full team of experienced and knowledgeable staff at the U.S. Department of the Interior and its agencies.
In the coming days, members of the U.S. Senate will have the opportunity to do something substantial to rein in federal overreach. They will have the chance to use the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to repeal the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) methane venting and flaring rule. Last month, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 221 to 191 to overturn the rule. Now it’s up to the Senate. The BLM rule was set in motion in the waning days of President Barack Obama’s administration to minimize venting and flaring of natural gas on federal and Indian lands. But the rule is a classic case of a federal agency overstepping. It is redundant, as states have rules in place that minimize methane emissions, and industry has deployed technologies to reduce emissions. In many cases, BLM’s rule conflicts with these effective state regulations. BLM also does not have the authority to implement this rule. Congress delegated regulation of the nation’s air quality specifically to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), not BLM. Because natural gas is mostly methane, capturing methane is already in the best interest of every oil and gas producer. In fact, industry investments and existing state regulations have reduced…
And then there were two. The abrupt resignation of Norman Bay last month left the five-member Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) with just two members – one shy of the three-commissioner quorum required to vote on major energy policies. FERC has now gone a month without a working quorum and the White House – with 517 nominations out of the 552 requiring Senate confirmation still to name – has been mum about potential candidates for the independent agency responsible for regulating the nation’s wholesale energy markets. It’s conceivable that the new president is unaware of the economic significance of FERC-regulated wires and pipes – which, according to a 2013 report by the Congressional Research Service, carries energy worth $435 billion annually – but the lack of a quorum is still bad news for the nation’s utilities, pipeline companies, and consumers that rely on the agency to provide a stable and predictable regulatory regime. It also poses a potential roadblock to President Trump’s promise to advance a $1 trillion infrastructure plan and revitalize America’s manufacturing sector, perhaps the two most bipartisan items on his agenda. Nearly 100 members of Congress, as well as representatives from the energy, chemical, and manufacturing sectors,…