House passes bill to speed up the gas pipeline approval process

The U.S. House of Representatives on Jan. 21 approved H.R. 161, the Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act, on a vote of 253 to 169.

The legislation, authored by House Energy and Commerce Committee member Mike Pompeo, R-Kansas, would expedite the construction of natural gas pipelines. The legislation would fix the outdated and broken federal permitting process and enforce agency deadlines to provide for timely project approvals, said a Jan. 21 statement from the committee’s GOP majority.

“We may have fixed our supply problems but we now have a serious distribution problem. Our archaic energy infrastructure and outdated regulatory system is blocking American consumers from reaping the benefits of our energy abundance. We have the gas, but don’t have the pipelines to get cheap energy directly to families and businesses that need it most,” said full committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Michigan. “This legislation seeks to fix the problem, inserting accountability into the permitting process for natural gas pipelines and establishing firm deadlines for agency reviews. Now that we are the leader in energy production, there is no reason America shouldn’t be number one in energy affordability too.”

“We are tens of thousands of miles of pipeline capacity short of the necessary pipelines to carry natural gas to consumers who need it and businesses who demand it today in America,” said Pompeo. “As coal-fired power plants become more difficult to build, the need for natural gas will become even more increased. This legislation is aimed directly at making sure that we don’t have shortages, outages, and catastrophes in energy production and energy delivery that America cannot afford.”

“We have heard testimony about the escalating prices of electricity in regions of the country where there is a shortage of pipeline capacity. This administration’s climate driven agenda is only exacerbating the problem as more coal plants are forced to shut down. This bill is designed to provide the infrastructure to get the natural gas to where it needs to be. That’s what this bill is about. It’s a commonsense bill to help meet the energy needs of America,” said Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield, R-Kentucky.

The bill says that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission needs to approve or deny an application for a certificate of public convenience and necessity for a prefiled project not later than 12 months after receiving a complete application. Any federal agency responsible for issuing any license, permit, or approval required under federal law in connection with a prefiled project for which a certificate of public convenience and necessity is sought would need to approve or deny the issuance of the license, permit, or approval not later than 90 days after the commission issues its final environmental document relating to the project. 

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.