Republicans plan to rewrite a regulation intended to protect Americans from mercury and other pollutants from the nation’s largest natural-gas drilling operations, according to a senior GOP lawmaker.
GOP leaders plan a rewrite of a rule meant to protect residents from pollutants from fracking operations in a major overhaul of the Obama-crafted Clean Air Act.
Republicans have been discussing a potential overhaul of a 2010 regulation known as the Safe Drinking Water Rule, which limits pollution from drinking water sources and requires companies to test drinking water before using it for drilling.
The proposal to rollback the rule was first reported by The Hill.
Sen. David Vitter, R-La., a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said in a statement Thursday that the rule’s rules “provide the best possible protection for the American people from hazardous substances.”
The rule was adopted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in January and was aimed at reducing emissions of mercury, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and other contaminants that can be released during hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
According to a report by the Environmental Defense Fund, the rule has reduced methane emissions by about 50 percent from 2008 levels.
“This is a major win for the people of America,” Vitter said in the statement.
But Democrats said the plan would roll back protections for communities of color and poor people.
In a statement, the Democratic National Committee said the bill “would roll back an important regulation that is the foundation of our Clean Air Rules.
This bill would also dismantle protections for people of color, immigrants, the LGBTQ community and the poor.
Instead of protecting Americans from dangerous substances, Republicans would allow the oil and gas industry to continue drilling for oil, gas and gas in the most environmentally destructive places.”
Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., a ranking member of House Democrats, called the plan to undo the Clean Air Rule “outrageous.”
“It is unconscionable that Republicans are trying to gut a vital safeguard that will ensure America’s children and our planet are protected from toxic air and water,” Ellison said.
Ellison said that Republicans have repeatedly proposed repealing the Clean Water Rule or even removing it altogether.
Democrats said the legislation would have to go through a procedural vote before being sent to President Donald Trump.