Turn to the nation's most objective and informative daily environmental news resource to learn how the United States and key players around the world are responding to the environmental...
By Brian Dabbs
Legislation aimed at averting pipeline approval fights akin to the battle over Keystone XL passed in the House July 19. The bill (H.R. 2883) would remove the White House from the cross-border pipeline regulatory process, replacing its approval authority with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
The Obama administration rejected the Keystone XL pipeline, which was designed to transfer Canadian oil to the Gulf of Mexico starting in late 2015. But President Donald Trump signed off on the project just days after taking office.
Republicans railed against the Obama decision as a detriment to U.S. jobs and the fossil fuel industry. TransCanada, however, is still seeking approval from Nebraska regulators before it begins construction.
The legislation, which passed 254-175 would give the Energy Department approval authority for cross-border electric transmission lines, but FERC would sign off on oil and natural gas pipelines.
Those approvals would come only after environmental assessments are completed. The U.S. shares pipelines infrastructure with both Canada and Mexico.
Supporters claim the regulatory overhaul will give more certainty and objectivity to approvals, while environmental groups blasted the passage.
"[The bill] eliminates many important longstanding procedures, undermining critical environmental and economic review by abolishing the requirement that a project obtain a presidential permit and be affirmatively determined to be in the public interest,” the League of Conservation Voters said in a July 18 letter to members, also arguing that the revamp would instruct federal regulators to only assess the environmental impacts of the pipeline section that crosses the border.
“By only reviewing a small portion of these projects and essentially erasing the national interest requirement, this bill would make it almost impossible for an agency to ever deny a permit and could result in irreversible damage to our health, public safety, climate, environment, and economy,” the letter said.
Meanwhile, the House also passed legislation (H.R. 2910) to require FERC and other regulators to finalize a decision on natural gas pipelines 90 days after an environmental review.
The measure also requires all federal and state agencies to show deference to the FERC review. That bill passed 248-179.
The American Chemistry Council, American Petroleum Institute, the National Ocean Industries Association and other industry groups lauded the passage. “The permitting process has become more protracted and challenging in recent years,” they said in a letter. “While the [FERC] generally acts in a timely manner on most proposed applications, roadblocks and delays are becoming far too common with other federal and state permitting agencies. We need a process that is fair, comprehensive, and ensures commonsense cooperation and timely decision-making.”
The sprawling Senate energy bill (S. 1460) includes a similar measure.
House Democrats failed to move a number of amendments on both bills that would have scaled back or modified the regulatory changes.
To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Dabbs in Washington at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rachael Daigle at firstname.lastname@example.org
The industry group's letter can be found at http://src.bna.com/qU8
The League of Conservation Voters letter can be found at http://src.bna.com/qVE
Language for S. 1460 can be found at http://src.bna.com/qVH
Language for H.R. 2910 can be found at http://src.bna.com/qVF
Language for H.R. 2883 can be found at http://src.bna.com/qVu
Copyright © 2017 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)