House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said lawmakers will begin the process of repealing several energy regulations enacted during the Obama administration next week, including rules on methane emissions, water protections and financial disclosures.
In an opinion column published Tuesday in the Wall Street Journal, McCarthy said House lawmakers will use the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to target specific regulations. Under the CRA, Congress has a 60-day window where it can expedite the rejection of proposed regulation.
"Perhaps no aspect of America's economy has been as overregulated as energy," McCarthy said. He added that "in the weeks to come, the House and Senate will use the CRA to repeal as many job-killing and ill-conceived regulations as possible."
According to McCarthy, one of the first targets that Republicans have in the crosshairs are three final rules for methane emissions from new oil and gas wells, which were unveiled last summer by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). He cited a report by the American Petroleum Institute that the methane rules could cost the industry up to $1 billion by 2025.
"The additional regulation would force small and struggling operations -- in the West in particular -- to close up shop, which is why it will be one of the first to go," McCarthy said.
But McCarthy's statement that the House would use the CRA to repeal the methane rules appeared to contradict comments made two weeks ago by George O'Connor, a spokesman for Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA). Perry introduced a resolution earlier this month to invoke the CRA to block the rules, but O'Connor said legislative staff later discovered that too much time had elapsed and the rules were outside the 60-day window.
McCarthy also repeated his pledge to repeal the Department of Interior's Stream Protection Rule, finalized last December. He also wants the House to repeal the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's disclosure rule for resource extraction, on the grounds that it "adds an unreasonable compliance burden on American energy companies that isn't applied to their foreign competitors.
"This rule, which closely mimics a regulation already struck down by the courts, would put American businesses at a competitive disadvantage."
McCarthy touted passage of HR 21 and HR 26 earlier this month by the House. The former calls for amending the CRA to allow Congress to issue a joint resolution of disapproval for a block of rules, while the latter would require federal agencies promulgating a major rule to publish information about it in the Federal Register, and include a report to Congress and the Government Accountability Office with a cost-benefit analysis.
Republicans could also be primed to attack Interior’s Methane Waste Prevention Rule (MWPR). The rule, to be implemented over time by the department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM), requires oil and gas producers to use currently available technologies and processes to cut flaring by half at oil wells on public and tribal lands.
Other rules and regulations that could be targeted include the BLM rules governing flaring and venting of associated natural gas on public and tribal lands; a BLM rule governing hydraulic fracturing on public and tribal lands, and the joint promulgation of the Clean Water Rule (CWR) by the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The CWR was designed to clarify what constitutes Waters of the United States, thereby deserving protection under the Clean Water Act.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued a stay on the CWR in October 2015.
After President Trump was inaugurated last Friday, the official White House website was changed to reflect the views of the new administration. The revised website included a statement that Trump intends to eliminate the CWR.