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PRESS RELEASE: Heartland Institute Experts React to Senate’s Failure to Revoke Methane Emission Rule

May 11, 2017

"This rule does nothing to help the environment, but it does add costs to oil and gas extraction on public lands." - H. Sterling Burnett

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The U.S. Senate today rejected a resolution to revoke an Obama-era rule to limit methane emissions from oil and gas production on federal lands. President Donald Trump wanted Congress to revoke the rule using the Congressional Review Act to allow more energy production on federal lands.

The following statements from energy and environment policy experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Media Specialist Billy Aouste at and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 847/445-7554.

“There was no good reason to reject this resolution, just as there was no justification for this redundant federal methane rule in the first place. States have long regulated and monitored methane emissions, and there is no evidence they’ve failed in their duty. This is just another Obama-era anti-fossil-fuel regulation that big-government Republicans have helped keep on the books.

“This rule does nothing to help the environment, but it does add costs to oil and gas extraction on public lands. It will reduce job growth and restrict domestic oil and gas production. Despite being thought of as national security hawks, I guess supporters Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) like America being beholden to foreign, often hostile, energy interests, including OPEC. Shame on them.”

H. Sterling Burnett
Research Fellow, Environment & Energy Policy
The Heartland Institute
Managing Editor, Environment & Climate News

“Today the Senate made a disappointing vote to keep Obama-era regulations on methane, the primary component of natural gas. These are just another layer of redundant regulations imposed on oil and gas producers on federal land. These regulations will not affect ‘Big Oil,’ because large companies have pockets deep enough to handle the additional cost of compliance. This rule will hurt the ability of small mom-and-pop operations to compete in the global energy market by driving up costs.”

Isaac Orr
Research Fellow, Energy and Environment Policy
The Heartland Institute

“The unwillingness of the Senate to overturn the rule limiting methane emissions from natural gas wells simply proves those who rejected this bill have no understanding of the absolute safety of these emissions, as well as their insignificant role as a greenhouse gas. This uneducated action proves that a great deal more work in educating the Senate on matters relating to America’s leadership in the world’s energy development is badly needed.”

Jay Lehr
Science Director
The Heartland Institute

“Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) voted no, and with the help of three Republican senators defeated the repeal of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) rule on flaring and venting. This BLM rule is against the interests of the citizens of North Dakota.

“The North Dakota Industrial Commission – Sen. Heitkamp formerly served on this commission when she was the state’s attorney general – issued comments to the BLM stating that the rule will cost the state $24 million a year in lost revenue from taxes and royalties. The rule also impacts individual property rights by putting private property under the restrictions of federal regulation. It will raise costs and delay projects by placing regulatory hurdles in the way of prudent mineral development.

“It is important to note that North Dakota has rules in place that address venting and flaring – and flaring has already dropped significantly. The BLM rule will not improve upon North Dakota’s regulations since the one-size-fits-all rule does not address the unique circumstances in each state.

“North Dakota, along with many other states and the Western Energy Alliance, battled the proposed rule in court for over a year leading up to the eleventh-hour implementation of the rule by the Obama administration. Now this fight will have to continue in the courts, costing taxpayers more money. Today’s vote in the Senate is disappointing but the ball is now in Secretary Zinke’s hands.”

Bette Grande
Research Fellow, Energy Policy
The Heartland Institute

Ms. Grande represented the 41st District in the North Dakota Legislature from 1996 to 2014.

“The Senate’s refusal today to roll back excessive regulation on shale oil and natural gas production is a major negative and a huge disappointment. President Trump’s America First Energy Plan requires rational regulation consistent with preventing true environmental problems. The Obama regulation in question was in reality an anti-carbon-dioxide and greenhouse gas emission regulation, as opposed to preventing true environmental harm.

“The Republican-controlled Senate, along with the House of Representatives, must join President Trump in creating a policy framework that allows the goals and ideals of the America First Energy Plan to be realized.

“Today’s blocking action by Democrats and a scattering of Republicans was a setback in that effort. The Heartland Institute will continue to educate the American people on the benefits of robust fossil fuel development, energy dominance for the United States, and energy independence. I hope this is the last time the Republicans in the Senate, and Democratic senators from energy states, block true progress in meeting the country’s energy goals, which can only be met through fossil fuels.”

Fred Palmer
Senior Fellow, Energy Policy
The Heartland Institute

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Energy Environment
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D., is a Heartland senior fellow on environmental policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.
Isaac Orr is a policy fellow at the Center of the American Experiment on mining and energy issues and a policy advisor for The Heartland Institute. @thefrackingguy
Jay Lehr is an internationally renowned speaker, scientist, Senior Policy Advisor with the International Climate Science Coalition and Senior Science Analyst at CFACT.
Bette Grande is a research fellow for energy and pension issues at The Heartland Institute. Prior to coming to Heartland, she served as a North Dakota state representative from 1996–2014, representing the 41st district. @BetteGrande
Frederick D. Palmer is a policy advisor for energy and climate at The Heartland Institute.