Mr. HOLT. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.
The CHAIR. The Clerk will designate the amendment.
The text of the amendment is as follows:
Page 1, line 14, strike ``The'' and insert ``Except as provided in subsection (c), the''.
Page 2, line 4, strike ``The'' and insert ``Except as provided in subsection (c), the''.
Page 2, after line 11, insert the following (and redesignate the subsequent quoted subsection accordingly):
``(c) Methane Emissions.--Nothing in this section limits the authority of the Secretary of the Interior to issue regulations to require the minimization of venting and flaring of methane from oil and gas drilling operations on public lands, and to issue regulations designed to reduce fugitive methane emissions.
The CHAIR. Pursuant to House Resolution 419, the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Holt) and a Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from New Jersey.
Mr. HOLT. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 3 minutes.
I rise in support of the amendment that I am introducing, along with Mr. Peters and Mr. Polis, to allow the Secretary of the Interior to regulate methane.
Methane is the second most abundant greenhouse gas emitted in the United States, and the oil and gas industry is responsible for about 30 percent of all methane emissions into the atmosphere.
Methane is a super pollutant more than 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide in warming the atmosphere. Now we know that methane can and sometimes does leak from fracked wells. That is what we see here with the ignited tap water. This so-called fugitive methane also contributes to air pollution as tropospheric ozone, or smog, which threatens public health by triggering asthma attacks and aggravating the conditions of people with bronchitis and emphysema.
In fact, methane leaks have contributed to the Upper Green River basin in Wyoming having some of the worst air quality in the country, at times rivaling the worst air quality days in Los Angeles.
Although discussed as a cleaner burning and more climate friendly energy source, natural gas, which is mostly methane, leaks at every stage of production, not just into the groundwater, and hence into drinking water wells. It does leak, and it does affect the Earth's climate. It is true that burning methane releases less carbon dioxide greenhouse gas to the atmosphere than does burning an equivalent amount of coal, but the methane itself is a greenhouse gas. Fugitive methane emissions in excess
of only a few percent remove the relative advantages of natural gas compared to other fossil energy sources.
Aside from issues of climate and health, leaked methane represents lost royalties for the Federal Government, lost revenue for oil and gas companies, and I know that supporting greater profits for Big Oil is something my colleagues should be eager to support.
Our amendment will help prevent the wasteful leakage of natural gas, will limit avoidable methane emissions, and will protect air quality and public health. I urge a ``yes'' vote on the Holt-Peters-Polis amendment.
I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. Mr. Chairman, the legislation before the House today is designed to eliminate duplicative regulations and allow for increased energy production. That is the intent of the legislation. Yet here we are with an amendment that creates a loophole in the bill to allow the government to impose back-door regulations to restrict and block American energy production, which, of course, we know would result in lost job opportunities.
H.R. 2728 aims to give the States primacy in regulating hydraulic fracturing operations within their borders. I want to mention that again. This bill aims to give the States primacy in regulating hydraulic fracturing within their borders. So if a State regulatory body wants to implement emissions regulations, which this amendment addresses, in conjunction with their other rules and regulations, they are free to implement their own regulations beyond what is already required. Nothing in this bill
prevents any State from putting emissions at the end of the regulations in place.
Further, the Secretary has the authority to manage methane emissions for production on Federal lands and, working collaboratively, we have seen significant reductions in the last 2 years because of that effort. However, attempting to cloak these regulations as fracturing regulations through a loophole that will cost American jobs and inhibit energy production in my mind is simply not the way to go.
So this amendment aims to impose controversial and political regulations into a bill that is simply about American energy production, and I urge a ``no'' vote.
Let me make just one other point. I will probably repeat this again. There is nothing in this bill that prevents a State from regulating emissions within their State, which, of course, would take effect and what the gentleman is trying to do.
I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. HOLT. Mr. Chairman, the whole point of the underlying bill is to make it impossible for the Department of the Interior, the Bureau of Land Management, the Secretary of the Interior to impose regulations. It says if the State has any regulations, then the Federal regulations don't count.
All this amendment would do is say on the important issue of what is called fugitive methane, leaked methane, methane that gets into the atmosphere by whatever means because of the drilling and fracking, should be limited. And it should be limited for several reasons. It is a potent greenhouse gas, and it is lost revenue. So I would think that everyone would be eager to make sure that none of this fugitive methane gets into the atmosphere or into the drinking water.
We know methane can and sometimes does leak from fracked wells. We should want the Secretary to be able to regulate that, because under the underlying bill, the Secretary could not. [Page: H7290]
This amendment is necessary, and I urge my colleagues to support it.
I yield back the balance of my time.