Legislative Activity

Nomination Proceedings

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has advanced the nominations of Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) to be Secretary of Interior and Governor Rick Perry to be Secretary of Energy. Notwithstanding the boycott by the Democratic members of the committee, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee advanced the nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General, Scott Pruitt for EPA Administrator. Senate floor votes have not yet been scheduled for any of the three nominees.

Stream Protection Rule

On Wednesday, by a vote of 228-194, the House passed a joint resolution, H.J.Res.38, using the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to repeal the Department of the Interior’s Stream Protection Rule. On Thursday, the Senate followed suite by a vote of 54-45. The rule, which was finalized in December by the Obama Administration, had sought to protect water supplies, surface water and groundwater quality, streams, fish, and wildlife from potential impacts of surface coal mining operations. Critics of the rule argued it would increase cleanup costs for closed mines. The joint resolution is expected to be signed by President Trump in the next several days.

Methane Flaring

On Friday, February 3, by a vote of 221-191, the House again used the CRA to pass a joint resolution, H. J. Res. 36, which would rescind the Bureau of Land Management’s Waste Prevention, Production Subject to Royalties, and Resource Conservation rule. The rule which was finalized under the Obama Administration was intended to reduce waste of natural gas from venting, flaring, and leaks during oil and natural gas production activities on onshore federal and Indian leases. The Senate is next to take up the joint resolution, which it is expected to pass and then be signed into law. 

Financial Disclosure

Also on Friday, the Senate passed a joint resolution, H. J. Res. 41, again using the CRA, by a vote of 52-47 to block  the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Disclosure of Payments by Resource Extraction Issuers rule. Over the objections of the oil and gas industry, which successfully sued to block an earlier version of the rule, the SEC had previously adopted a revised version of the rule to require companies to disclose payments to foreign governments regarding commercially developed oil, natural gas and minerals. The resolution is expected to be signed by President Trump in the coming days.

This Week’s Hearings

On Monday, February 6, the House Committee on Rules will consider H.J. Res. 44 to rescind the Department of the Interior’s Resource Management Planning rule (“Planning 2.0”).

On Tuesday, February 7, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee has scheduled a hearing titled “Making EPA Great Again.” The witnesses will be:

  • The Honorable Jeffrey R. Holmstead, Partner, Bracewell LLP;
  • Kimberly White, Senior Director, Chemical Products and Technology, American Chemistry Council;
  • The Honorable Rush Holt, CEO, American Association for the Advancement of Science; and
  • Richard Belzer, Independent Consultant, 115th Congress.