FERC Acting Chairman Willie Phillips got the memo.

The head of the federal regulatory agency tasked with overseeing energy infrastructure development told a cavernous conference hall filled with industry insiders what they had hoped to hear: Phillips has their back when it comes to speeding up decisions on infrastructure projects.

“Building new things,” Phillips said Thursday at CERAWeek by S&P Global in Houston, “is something we are all in agreement on and focused on.”

He specifically noted the need for new natural gas pipelines – a central theme of the conference – to ensure abundant U.S. supplies are distributed domestically and to Gulf Coast export facilities to meet mounting global demand.

Phillips, a former state regulator who joined the Federal...