Wow: Senator Heidi Heitkamp Says She’ll Vote to Keep Obama’s Duplicative, Harmful Methane Rule


Senator Heidi Heitkamp at Cirrus Aircrafts' celebration Tuesday, December 20 in Grand Forks, N.D. (Jesse Trelstad/Grand Forks Herald)

UPDATE: The final Senate vote on this was 51-49. It failed. Had Heitkamp voted the other way the tie would have been settled in favor of passing the CRA with Vice President Pence’s vote.

On his way out the door earlier this year former President Barack Obama committed an act of regulatory vandalism. He instituted a rule through the Bureau of Land Management targeting methane emissions from oil and gas development.

It’s a rule, like so many of the Obama administration’s actions, aimed less at protecting the environment than hamstringing the industry. All the more so because the BLM doesn’t have the authority to regulate air quality. That authority has been given to the EPA which already has methane regulations in place.

Earlier this year the House passed legislation under the Congressional Review Act to overturn the BLM rule.

This is a big deal for our state.

Congressman Kevin Cramer voted in the House to repeal what he has described as a “God-awful rule” which is “aimed right at North Dakota.”

The North Dakota Chamber of Commerce wants the rule repealed.

Governor Doug Burgum is opposed to it.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem has filed suit on behalf of the state over the rule.

But today Senator Heidi Heitkamp has said she’d vote against overturning the rule according to this reporter from The Hill (the Senate is voting on the CRA as I type this):

Which constituency, exactly, is Senator Heitkamp representing with this vote?

Not one which represents any sort of a voting majority here in North Dakota, I would argue.

Just to pile on a bit, here’s Senator John Hoeven speaking in favor of overturning the rule on the floor of the Senate yesterday:

“With methane emissions already being regulated and reduced by the states and industry, it’s tough to figure out what this new BLM regulation is accomplishing,” Hoeven said. “It is a duplicative, one-size-fits-all approach that costs us jobs and economic growth. We can provide regulatory relief right now through the Congressional Review Act, and I urge my colleagues to do so.”

I’m surprised by move from Heitkamp. This specific policy question probably isn’t going to be issue upon which many votes hinge but it does put a big, fat dent in Heitkamp’s carefully-crafted persona as a pragmatic, middle-of-the-road moderate.

She’s voting with the environmental left here, for no really good reason at all.