Thursday, April 06, 2017

Congressional Clock Running Out to Repeal Obama Regulations

by Ari Natter

But with a key deadline for using the Congressional Review Act looming, plenty of other rules targeted for elimination are likely to be spared -- or fall into the longer, laborious process of review by the administration. "That window is closing," Marc Short, White House director of legislative affairs, told reporters Wednesday. Congress has until roughly the end of the month -- the deadline is set by the number of days it is in session -- to act on the 20 pending measures. Lawmakers are scheduled to leave town for a two-week break Friday. After that they will have a week-long sprint to try to reach a budget agreement and avoid a government shutdown. That leaves little time for other issues, and opponents can demand up to 10 hours of Senate debate for each review act measure. The top remaining target for Republicans is an Interior Department rule requiring companies to find and repair leaks of methane -- a potent greenhouse gas -- from pipelines, processing equipment and wells. The American Petroleum Institute has lobbied hard to get the rule overturned, arguing it could curtail exploration and development of oil and natural gas on federal lands. The measure easily passed the House in February, but has since stalled in the Senate. Even without congress that rule could be scrapped. The Interior Department has begun a review of it. That effort is expected to take at least a year, and will likely be followed by lengthy lawsuits, said Kevin Book, managing director of the Washington-based research firm ClearView Energy Partners. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said his preference is for Congress to pass the CRA resolution killing the methane rule. "I would like to see a CRA on it, because it lessens the litigation," Zinke said in a March 28 interview. At the end of the day, if it is spiked by a CRA resolution, "we’ll go forward to make a modification to the rule that makes sense," Zinke said. In addition to that rule, lawmakers could act on one of the four other measures that have been introduced in both chambers of Congress: rolling back regulations on coal valuation, chemical safety, pre-paid credit cards and regional haze in Utah, Batkins said...more

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