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Bureau of Indian Affairs

Officials in North Dakota are racing against time to move hundreds of cars and trucks from the site of an anti-pipeline protest before seasonal flooding sweeps the vehicles into the Missouri River. “There are roughly 200 vehicles down there at last count, ranging from cars and pickups to rental trucks,” George Kuntz, vice president of the North Dakota Towing Association, told Western Wire. At least one vehicle has already been found in the water, potentially leaking engine oil and gasoline, according to local law enforcement.

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With the Senate expected this week to take up measures that would revoke late-term Obama administration regulations, North Dakota’s leading business group has joined Western lawmakers in urging the repeal of a rule targeting oil and natural gas development on federal lands.

Photo credit: Senate Budget Committee

With the Senate potentially voting this week on a measure that will overturn a rule targeting oil and natural gas development on federal lands, Washington, D.C., media have reported that some key Western lawmakers remain on the fence. But follow-up inquiries by Western Wire tell a different story: There is strong support in the West for repealing the Obama administration’s last-minute “venting and flaring” rule.

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The Congressional Review Act (CRA) is a buzzy term that has been making the rounds in the political press lately. Western Wire checked in with Beltway experts on why the CRA is being used in Congress now, how the process works and whether it really can repeal late-term Obama administration regulations.

Photo credit: U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch

Senators from the West introduced legislation today that would shield states from redundant regulations on hydraulic fracturing from federal agencies. The Protecting States’ Rights to Promote American Energy Security Act (S.316), sponsored by senators in Utah and Wyoming, recognizes that all states with significant oil and gas development already have adequate regulations in place for hydraulic fracturing.

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The U.S. House of Representatives voted today to repeal the Obama administration’s planning policy for federal lands, with the support of many Western stakeholders, including the agriculture sector. Farmers across the country had sounded the alarm over the “significant departure from the historical way local governments have been involved in BLM decision making,” as farm bureaus in states like California, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington wrote in a Jan. 24 letter to Congressional leaders.

Photo credit: U.S. Sen. John Barrasso

Today, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it will grant the final permit needed for the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline, a 1,172-mile pipeline that which will transport oil from North Dakota to Illinois. “President Trump has promised to put Americans back to work and this is an important step in fulfilling that promise,” said U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, in a statement released this afternoon.