In the 24 days since President Donald Trump’s inauguration, the Republican-controlled Congress has already moved to overturn four major rules that the oil, gas, and coal industries spent millions of dollars fighting during the Obama administration. First, Congress eliminated the Stream Protection Rule, which would prevent toxic mine waste from being dumped in streams. Then Congress voted to get rid of a rule that limited bribery and corruption in oil operations around the world. And in the coming days, the U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote to overturn a rule that limits methane pollution when oil and gas companies drill on public lands and to eliminate a rule that increases public input in public lands management decisions.
In the American West, catastrophic wildfires have grown increasingly frequent, damaging, and dangerous. In the first nine months of 2015, wildfires burned more than 9 million acres of land in the region — an area more than four times larger than Yellowstone National Park.
In 1965, Congress forged a compact that has guided American offshore drilling policy for half a century. Through what is known as a conservation royalty, U.S. law requires that a portion of oil and gas companies’ revenues from drilling in the federally owned Outer Continental Shelf be invested in parks, open space, trails, and historic preservation projects across the country.
In the first 100 days of 2015, the new Congress has cast more roll call votes on energy and environmental issues than on any other legislative area, with the Senate casting 44 percent of its votes on the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline; efforts to block action to reduce carbon pollution; proposals to sell America’s public lands; and other fossil-fuel and energy-related legislation. However, not one of the energy- or environment-related bills and amendments on which the new Congress has voted has become law.