Welcome to Overnight Regulation, your daily rundown of news from the federal agencies, Capitol Hill, the courts and beyond. It’s been a somber Wednesday in Congress, as House votes were postponed after a gunman opened fire on lawmakers practicing for the congressional baseball game.
THE BIG STORY
The Interior Department is preparing to delay implementation of a rule limiting methane waste at oil and natural gas drilling sites, The Hill’s Devin Henry reports.
In a Federal Register notice set for publication Thursday, Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) said it would look to postpone the compliance dates for several parts of the Obama-era rule. The rule aims to reduce leaks of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, at drilling sites on federal land.
Drillers are required to come into compliance with the rule beginning on Jan. 17, 2018. But several industry groups have sued over the regulation, and President Trump has ordered Interior to reconsider the measure.
BLM’s explanation: The agency said in its Register notice that it would postpone the compliance dates “in light of the regulatory uncertainty created by the pending litigation and the ongoing administrative review.”
Provisions that will be delayed: The notice says the agency will look to suspend the rule’s provisions that set limits on venting and flaring at drilling sites, require drillers to establish “waste minimization plans,” and define pollution that comes from oil and gas operations.
Industry react: The oil and gas sector cheered the move. They have opposed efforts to restrict methane emissions, arguing that federal rules are duplicative in light of state standards, and that the industry is good at self-regulating methane leaks.
Greens react: “The plans to delay these much-needed methane pollution standards demonstrates that the Environmental Protection Agency is no longer working for the people, it’s working for polluters,” said Lauren Pagel, the policy director at Earthworks, which sued the EPA.
Environmental groups warn that efforts to undercut methane standards will lead to public health problems.
ON TAP FOR THURSDAY
Agency heads are making the rounds on Capitol Hill to discuss their fiscal 2018 budget requests.
The Senate Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services and Education subcommittee will hear from HHS Secretary Tom Price about the agency’s budget request at 10:00 a.m.
The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will hold a hearing on the U.S. Forest Service’s FY 2018 budget request at 10:00 a.m.
The House Appropriations interior and environment subcommittee will hold a hearing on the EPA’s budget beginning at 11:00 a.m.
The Senate’s Homeland Security and Government Affairs regulatory affairs subcommittee will examine the Office of Management and Budget’s memorandum on the federal workforce starting at 9:30 a.m.
The Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works will meet to consider the nomination of Kristine…