Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg News

Governing is hard, the methane edition

March 8, 2017 Mark Drajem  & Ari Natter

This is an exceprt from BGOV’s daily energy newsletter. The full article was first available to Bloomberg Government subscribers. 

Republicans in Congress are learning the difficult truth that legislating is different when you have your fingers on the controls. Exhibit A, of course, is health care. Repealing Obamacare garnered easy majorities when President Obama was in office; now it’s turned into a bowl of molasses.

On a smaller scale, consider the Congressional Review Act vote to repeal BLM’s venting and flaring rule. The oil and gas industry hates it, the House passed it and President Trump would love to sign it. So what’s the hold up, Senate Republicans?

“We are not where we need to be, but we’re working on it,” said Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, who is the chamber’s second-ranking Republican. “We’re not ready.”

The measure is facing push back from moderate Republicans, including Maine’s Susan Collins. “I do not,” she said, when asked if she supported the measure.

Other senators said to be wavering include Cory Gardner of Colorado. That state has a strong oil and gas industry — but also its own methane rules and a deep base of support for conservation.

Not everything is impossible.

The Senate passed a measure to overturn the Bureau of Land Management’s Planning 2.0 rule, sending it to Trump for his signature. Energy and agricultural industries, along with state and local officials, argued the revamp would obstruct work on public lands, Alan Kovskireports. The Obama-era rule undermined the law’s multiple-use mandate by favoring conservation over other uses, Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota said.

An Early Resurrection?

It looks like the architects of the broad energy bill that died in the last Congress have found a new vehicle: the massive infrastructure package being pushed by the White House.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee announced it’s planning a March 14 hearing on “opportunities to improve American energy infrastructure.”

Their companions in the House have been keen on the idea too.

Representative Fred Upton, the former chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee told reporters recently that pipelines, changes to FERC and other components of last year’s energy bill will likely end up as part of an energy title in the forthcoming legislation.

“I think we can go back and look at a good number of things that we were able to reach a consensus on — particularly focusing on the jobs side of things,” he said.

Coal and the CPP

Killing the Clean Power Plan isn’t going to save Appalachian coal — it’s really more of an issue for cheaper, Powder River Basin production, Adam Sieminski, the former head of the Energy Information Administration told Catherine Traywick. Unfortunately for the promises made by Trump, killing the regulation won’t solve the issue of unemployed Appalachian coal miners, he said.

Energy Department’s Budget Ax

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, currently funded at about $2.1 billion a year, would see its allocation slashed by at least $700 million under a proposal from the Office of Management and Budget, according to three people briefed on the plans who asked not to be identified discussing the internal deliberations.

Scott Sklar, the chairman of the steering committee of the Sustainable Energy Coalition, said he’s been told the goal could be even more severe: two-thirds of the office’s budget.

This is an excerpt from BGOV’s daily energy newsletter.  Learn more about our daily newsletters focused on what matters most to you. 

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