Saying that New England is facing an energy crisis, Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) has asked his state’s congressional delegation to reconsider their earlier opposition to a bill that would speed up permitting of natural gas pipelines.
LePage voiced his support for the Natural Gas Permitting Reform Act, H.R. 1900, in a Sept. 23 letter to Rep. Chellie Pingree and Rep. Michael Michaud, both Democrats.
“New England is in an energy crisis,” LePage said in the letter. “Constraints in the natural gas pipeline infrastructure are causing electricity prices to spike to nearly unprecedented levels and requiring generators to use oil to keep the light on in our region,” LePage said.
The governor said that “energy intensive manufacturing” in Maine has been idled in winter months because prices are not competitive.
“New England desperately needs new pipeline infrastructure,” LePage said.
The gas pipeline legislation would give federal agencies 90 days to approve or deny a permit for a natural gas pipeline project. If agencies fail to complete their work the permit is automatically approved, LePage said.
LePage said the New England Ratepayers Association has endorsed the legislation. The governor went on to say that the Maine lawmakers “opposed this legislation in an up-or-down vote” as part of a larger package of energy bills.
“Please reconsider your opposition and support natural gas pipeline growth to keep this region competitive,” LePage said. “Twenty-six of your democratic colleagues supported the legislation and understand how natural gas can be the difference for our businesses,” LePage said.
The legislation in question was proposed by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.). The website govtrack gives it a 24% chance of being enacted. The bill would amend section 7 of the Natural Gas Act. The legislation says that pipeline rulings must be made within 90 days of issuance of the final environmental document.