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Congressional Review Act Resolution Introduced To Revoke EPA Methane Rule—Does This Open The CRA Floodgates? – Energy and Natural Resources

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Congressional Review Act Resolution Introduced To Revoke EPA Methane Rule—Does This Open The CRA Floodgates?

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On March 25, 2021, Democrats in the Senate and House of Representatives
introduced joint resolutions pursuant to the Congressional Review
Act (CRA) that if approved by Congress and signed by President
Biden would rescind the Trump-era rollback of Obama-era
regulations that (1) imposed methane-specific emission limits on
“production and processing” segments of the oil and gas
industry and (2) required that transmission lines and storage
equipment be inspected for methane leaks and repaired in a timely
manner in accordance with the New Source Performance Standards for
the Oil and Natural Gas Industry.  The CRA resolution, if
approved by Congress and signed by President Biden, would reinstate
these Obama-era regulations for the oil and gas industry.

The CRA, which was enacted in 1996, is a tool that allows
Congress to disapprove a range of regulatory rules issued by
federal agencies by first approving a joint resolution of
disapproval that then goes to the President for signature. If
signed by the President, the disapproved rule either does not take
effect or does not continue.  In addition, once a joint
resolution of disapproval is enacted, the CRA provides that a new
rule may not be issued in “substantially the same form”
as the disapproved rule.  Congress has a limited window to
act-the CRA requires that a joint resolution of disapproval must be
introduced within 60 legislative working days of the date that the
rule was submitted to Congress.

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The CRA had not been widely used prior to the Trump
administration and the Democrats had widely criticized President
Trump’s prior use of the CRA to rescind Obama-era
regulations.  As such, there had been some uncertainty as to
whether the Democrats would embrace this tool in light of their
prior opposition and hostility to the use of the CRA by many
environmental groups.  However, with this joint resolution and
another March 23rd CRA resolution to disapprove of the
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s conciliation rule,
the CRA floodgates may have opened.  The resulting deluge will
likely be of short duration, however, as the window for CRA
disapprovals for Trump-era actions is expected to close on April

Originally Published March 26, 2021

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