Methane Mavericks!

Oh good: McCain, Graham and Collins save Obama's insane methane regulation


By —— Bio and Archives May 11, 2017

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John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Susan Collins are liberals. You understand that, right? They are not moderates. They’re liberals.

But wait! You want to defend McCain because he was a prisoner of war and he put Sarah Palin on the map. Stop. Just stop. He may vote with his Republican colleagues on occasion when it’s politically easy for him to do so, but when it comes to the big questions, McCain is a liberal. That’s why he refuses to support eliminating the filibuster on legislation, because it would take away Chuck Schumer’s ability to stop the Republican agenda.

And it’s why he joined with fellow liberals Graham and Collins yesterday to save one of Barack Obama’s worst environmental regulations. You only do that because you’re an anti-business, pro-regulation liberal, which is exactly what all three of them are:

Senators voted 51 to 49 to block consideration of a resolution to repeal the 2016 Interior Department rule to curb emissions of methane

In a surprising victory for President Barack Obama’s environmental legacy, the Senate voted on Wednesday to uphold an Obama-era climate change regulation to control the release of methane from oil and gas wells on public land.

Senators voted 51 to 49 to block consideration of a resolution to repeal the 2016 Interior Department rule to curb emissions of methane, a powerful planet-warming greenhouse gas. Senators John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Susan Collins of Maine, all Republicans who have expressed concern about climate change and backed legislation to tackle the issue, broke with their party to join Democrats and defeat the resolution.

The vote also marked the first, and probably the only, defeat of a stream of resolutions over the last four months — pursued through the once-obscure Congressional Review Act — to unwind regulations approved late in the Obama administration.

Senate Republicans were attempting to use the Congressional Review Act to get rid of the regulation. They’ve done it successfully with 16 others since Obama left office, and in fairness to McCain, Graham and Collins, they voted to get rid of all the others. So why am I being so hard on them here, for just this one vote? Because it’s indicative of a pattern, the pattern being that they will go through the motions of being Republicans when they’re not really that much on the line or they’re not going to get that much blowback. But when the Democrats really want something badly, these three are the most likely in the Senate to cross party lines and give them what they want.

You have to wonder how much this was motivated by McCain’s love of media attention

The methane reg McCain and his friends helped to save requires energy companies to capture methane they flare off, which is a very expensive process that even McCain described as “onerous.” So why vote to save it? McCain’s objection is that the CRA doesn’t allow the EPA to come back and pass a similar rule in the future.

That objection makes no sense. The whole point of the CRA is to prevent an out-of-control bureaucracy from imposing rules that wouldn’t pass muster in Congress. The CRA is worded as it is so the bureaucracy can’t simply thumb its nose at Congress, come back and put essentially the same rule in place after Congress rejected it. That’s the idea. If McCain wants a different rule on methane, he should propose a bill that would establish one rather than complain that the bureaucracy can’t do it on their own.

You have to wonder how much this was motivated by McCain’s love of media attention. When George W. Bush was president, McCain was the media’s favorite Republican because of his penchant for showing up on TV and lamenting how extreme and right-wing the GOP had supposedly become. They lost their love for McCain when he became the Republican nominee, and especially after he named Palin as his running mate.

But now the media are looking for helpers in their crusade against Donald Trump’s agenda, so if McCain is willing to play ball in exchange for more adoring media attention, all will surely be forgiven, and quickly.

The filibuster in the Senate is a big problem, as it requires 60 votes to pass just about anything. But when you don’t even really have 50 Republicans willing to support basic conservative legislation, you’ve got a much bigger problem on your hands. And thanks to these three, at least, we don’t.


Dan Calabrese -- Bio and Archives | Click to view Comments

Dan Calabrese’s column is distributed by CainTV, which can be found at caintv.com

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