U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) Friday introduced bipartisan legislation (HR 1900) that seeks to bring more certainty to the interstate natural gas pipeline permitting process.

The measure would give federal agencies no later than 90 days after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issues its certificate (with a one-time extension of 30 days for unforeseen circumstances) to complete their work.

The time line would apply to any federal agency charged with issuing a permit for an interstate gas project, including the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (right-of-way grant), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Clean Water Act), Fish and Wildlife (Endangered Species Act), and the Environmental Protection Agency (emissions permit). A pipeline project could require as many as 10 permits.

The 90-day time line would actually codify the Commission’s existing regulations following the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct), which were intended to expedite federal authorizations for interstate gas pipeline projects, but have failed so far.

A study by the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, which was released earlier this year, found that for interstate gas pipeline projects, the percentage of federal authorizations that were issued more than 90 days beyond FERC’s issuing an environmental impact statement (EIS) or an environmental assessment (EA) rose from 7.69% before EPAct became law to 28.05% after its implementation (see Daily GPI, Jan. 17).

Federal authorizations granted 180 days or longer after FERC issued an EIS or EA rose from 3.42% before EPAct to 19.51% after, the study said. The Pompeo measure seeks to improve this.

“This bipartisan piece of legislation makes common sense reforms to the natural gas pipeline permitting process. We’re looking forward, modernizing how we approve natural gas pipelines as natural gas becomes more prevalent as a source of electricity,” said Pompeo.

“With increased production of natural gas, he believes we need an updated permit process that keeps up with rising production. Giving operators some degree of certainty …within a certain time only helps the process,” said J.P. Freire, a spokesman for Pompeo.

Cosponsors of the legislation are Reps. Jim Matheson (D-UT), Pete Olson (R-TX), Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Bill Johnson (R-OH).

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