In its January 5, 2021 special election, Georgia chose two Democrats for the Senate. The Senate will be evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, with Vice President-elect Harris able to break ties. Democrat Chuck Schumer of New York will become Majority Leader; Democrats will control Senate committees.
Legislation Requires 60 Votes in the Senate
Democratic control of the Senate will have some effect on environmental matters, but significant legislation remains unlikely. The structure of the federal government resists rapid change. Most notably, Senate rules require 60 votes for most legislation. At least one prominent Democratic Senator, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, has stated he opposes elimination of the 60-vote rule. Moreover, he has generally sided with Republicans on energy and environmental issues; West Virginia is a major coal producing state that voted 69% for President Trump in the 2020 election.
Democratic control of the Senate will allow relatively smooth approval of President-elect Biden’s cabinet candidates. Democratic control will also allow Democrats to choose topics for committee investigations but will not be enough to pass major environmental legislation.
Limited Role for the CRA
Democratic control will not lead to significant roll back of regulations from the Trump administration, at least in the near term. While the Congressional Review Act (CRA) allows Congress to nullify regulations and the 60-vote rule does not apply, the CRA has strict time limits on when Congress must act. According to a recent analysis by the law firm Steptoe (https://www.steptoe.com/en/news-publications/post-election-considerations-the-congressional-review-act.html), very few significant Trump-era rules are at risk for CRA action. Most regulatory changes will require formal notice and comment procedures, a process that takes time.
TCEQ Proposal for Marine Loading Operations Standard Permit
Edge Engineering & Science, in a recent client alert, discussed the proposal from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) for a non-rule air quality Standard Permit for marine loading operations. TCEQ will host a virtual public meeting on January 21, 2021 to receive stakeholder input. Edge plans to attend. For more information, contact Edge via https://edge-es.com/ or email Chris Coville at firstname.lastname@example.org.