Another day brings another regulatory or legislative issue being discussed at the federal level, and for once, we can say that those in the oil and gas industry are enthusiastic about the prospect. Before President Trump was elected, America’s energy producers had been targeted for eight long years by the Obama administration, which was searching for ways to regulate the industry out of business—putting YOU out of business.
In a past article featured in the April edition of the Bulletin, I shared updates on President Trump’s Executive Orders focused on regulatory reform and encouraging domestic energy production. Those activities continue at a fast and furious pace, attempting to right the regulatory ship, which had gone far off course under the Obama Administration.
In addition to Presidential action, Congress has been hard at work as well. In March, the U.S. House of Representatives had passed the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to stop the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Venting and Flaring Rule which would have required that both new wells and existing wells on federal land be subject to strict emissions control requirements. At the time we applauded the House on their good work and began the task of educating members of the U.S. Senate on the dire impact the rule could have on the industry.
For two long months the CRA languished in the Senate, the deadline for passage rapidly approached. One of the U.S. Senate members that had outstanding questions was Ohio’s own Rob Portman. OOGA worked to illustrate the detrimental effects of the rule, Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke also worked tirelessly with the Senator to find a path forward to address the Senators outstanding concerns (BLM is a division within the Department of Interior). Finally, we got the word that Senator Portman would vote to support use of the CRA to repeal the Venting and Flaring Rule, with the vote scheduled for May 10, 2017.
On the morning of May 10, OOGA was excited that the Senate was prepared to move the issue to the Senate floor for a vote. To our great shock, as well as for his colleagues leading the issue in the Senate, we got word that Senator John McCain (R-AZ), who was believed to be supporting the CRA came out against it. Senator McCain joined two other Republicans, who had previously stated that they would not support the CRA, in voting against it: Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Susan Collins (R-ME). In spite of its failure, OOGA would like to thank Senator Portman and his colleagues who voted to support the CRA.
While the CRA’s failure was a disappointment, this is not the end of the opportunity to revise and improve the rule. Through President’s Trumps previously issued executive order, the Department of Interior had been directed to review the Venting and Flaring Rule. Almost immediately after the vote, the BLM issued a statement that they would be suspending the rule while the agency worked to begin the formal process to revise it.
OOGA will be looking forward to working with our producers, with our federal partners, and with the Director Zinke to make the BLM’s venting and flaring rule more reasonable than what the previous administration enacted.