Four natural gas trade groups have called on Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge to award one federal agency primary responsibility over the security of the nation’s energy infrastructure.

Currently four agencies — the departments of Energy and Transportation, and FERC and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission — share jurisdiction over homeland energy security matters, the Natural Gas Council said in a Jan. 22 letter to Ridge. ‘To improve coordination and efficiency, prevent overlap, and ensure that each agency involved in homeland energy infrastructure security has a clear understanding of its responsibilities, we believe one agency should be in charge,” said the four groups that make up the council.

In addition, the council asked for “pre-approved waivers from permitting requirements” to allow energy companies to “quickly and expeditiously” replace any facilities that may incur damage in the event of a terrorist strike. A “review of the antitrust laws” is warranted as well to ensure “legal safeguards are in place to allow industry coordination, communication, training and emergency planning” if an attack on energy facilities should occur.

The council also called for a review of the Freedom of Information Act to limit public access to information on energy infrastructure facilities. It claims this action is needed to prevent the information from falling into the hands of terrorists.

Signing off on the letter were David N. Parker, president of the American Gas Association; Jerald V. Halvorsen, president of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America; Barry Russel, president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America; Red Cavaney, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute; and R. Skip Horvath, president of the Natural Gas Supply Association.

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