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Wellinghoff Departs FERC
Key Republican members of Congress echo the API. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY), and Environment and the Economy Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus (R-IL) issued a joint statement saying, "The rule remains an unnecessary layer of red tape standing in the way of important energy production and job creation opportunities."
Bills Would Speed Up Approval of Pipeline Construction Applications
New legislation designed to force federal agencies to move faster on new interstate pipeline construction applications should clear the House easily. The Senate may be a different story. Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) introduced the Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act (H.R. 1900) against the backdrop of pipeline infrastructure shortfalls in places such as New England and the Midwest.
However, the bill appears to address a problem that, if it exists at all, is not a big problem. Interstate pipelines have actually been satisfied with the FERC approval process. Don Santa, the INGAA Chairman and CEO, told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on May 14, "the current process for the review, approval, permitting and siting of natural gas pipelines generally works well." However, occasionally agencies such as the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have dragged their feet on approving construction after the FERC has greenlighted a project.
The Pompeo bill for the first time sets a deadline of 12 months for FERC to approve or deny a pipeline permit application. The other federal agencies with permitting authority would have 90 days (which may be extended by another 30 days) to act on the permit to build the pipeline. If the agency does not issue a determination within 90 days, the permit is considered granted.
Santa also mentioned a second bill in his testimony to the committee. That is the Energy Infrastructure Improvement Act (H.R. 1587) which would allow the Secretary of Interior to approve construction of a pipeline through national park land. Today, before a pipeline can be built within a national park, Congress must pass a bill.