House Committee Drastically Reduces SRF Budgets For Next Year

September 2013, Vol. 68 No. 9

Keith Chu, a spokesman for the Senate Energy Committee, says there isn’t a hearing scheduled for H.R. 1900 at the moment. He adds, "Chairman Wyden is interested in talking to colleagues about whether there is interest in speeding up permitting while also addressing methane emissions, but it’s too soon to say whether there would be legislation."

Any Senate bill may contain some of the provisions in the Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act (H.R. 1900) passed by the House Energy & Commerce Committee by a vote of 28-14 on July 17. But there wasn't much Democratic support for that bill in the House. That means Wyden is likely to modify many of H.R. 1900's provisions and probably add new ones, especially given his interest in seeing pipelines reduce methane emissions, a desire that tracks with the strategy on climate change announced by President Obama in June.

Wyden may well accept some elements of H.R. 1900 since its sponsor, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), agreed to make some changes in the bill to appease the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission (FERC). Those changes clarified that the expedited approval process endorsed by the bill would only be available to pipeline sponsors who put projects through the pre-filing process. That 12-month limit on how long the FERC could take to either approve or reject a project after completion of a final environmental impact statement would begin after the commission received a completed application from the sponsor. Even after those changes were made, however, 14 Democrats voted against the bill and only two voted for it, meaning the legislation has a GOP stamp on it, clouding its prospects in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Hazardous liquids pipelines worry about Tier III proposal

Hazardous liquids pipelines are up in arms about an EPA proposal requiring a reduction in the amount of sulfur in gasoline. The proposed rule would pressure pipelines to reduce sulfur in pipelines as the petroleum travels through the distribution system. The EPA proposed rule is called "Tier III" and its purpose is to reduce automobile tailpipe emissions of hazardous pollutants such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter, to name a few bad actors. Part of the rational for the proposal is to bring federal tailpipe emission standards into alignment with California's LEV III program, which begins in 2015. California's air emission limits are stricter than those in the EPA's current Tier II program.

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