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Obama-era drilling regulation preserved

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US President Barack Obama speaks at an oil and gas production fields on federal lands March 21, 2012 near Maljamar, NM. Obama spoke on expanding domestic oil and gas production. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages)

WASHINGTON (AP) The Senate has blocked an effort to overturn an Obama-era regulation restricting harmful methane emissions that escape from oil and gas wells on federal land.

The measure failed on a vote of 51-to-49 in the Republican-led chamber.

Republican leaders were seeking to overturn the Interior Department rule under the Congressional Review Act.

President Barack Obama finalized a rule in November that would force energy companies to capture methane that’s burned off or “flared” at drilling sites because it earns less money than oil.

Democrats and environmental groups say the rule protects the public health and generates millions in revenue for state, local and tribal governments.

Republicans and industry groups call the rule an example of federal overreach under Obama and say it duplicates state rules in place throughout the West.