CAPITOL HILL – The House is making it easier for companies to build natural gas pipelines. Two measures approved last Wednesday were touted by Republicans as means to streamline the approval process for oil and natural gas pipelines. The Promoting Interagency Coordination for Review of Natural Gas Pipelines Act, which passed by a 248-179 vote, codifies that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) act as the lead environmental review agency for projects and sets deadlines for other state and local agencies to ask FERC to become participating agencies, as well as deadlines for FERC to issue permit decisions. The Promoting Cross-Border Energy Infrastructure Act undoes an executive order saying a presidential permit is needed to build an oil or gas pipeline or electric transmission facility that crosses border with Mexico or Canada. That bill passed with a 254-175 vote.
“These are commonsense reforms that reduce interagency bureaucracy, and I think that we can all agree that permitting should be more transparent and more accountable,” said Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas-17), the sponsor of the first bill mentioned.
Republicans also spoke of the need for the U.S. to become energy independent and to foster economic growth, which they argue the bills help achieve.