Industry Briefs

Bipartisan legislation (HR 1900) introduced by U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) seeks to bring more certainty to the interstate natural gas pipeline permitting process, giving federal agencies up to 90 days after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issues a certificate (one-time 30-day extension 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) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Endangered Species Act; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Clean Water Act); and the Environmental Protection Agency (emissions permit). Pipeline projects require as many as 10 permits. The time limit would codify existing regulations following the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct), which were intended to expedite projects. A study this year by the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America found that the percentage of federal authorizations for interstate pipes that were issued more than 90 days beyond FERC’s issuing environmental impact statements (EIS) or environmental assessments (EA) rose from 7.69% before EPAct became law to 28.05% after implementation (see NGI, Jan. 21). Federal authorizations granted 180 days or longer after FERC issued an EIS or EA rose from 3.42% to 19.51%. Cosponsors of the legislation are Reps. Jim Matheson (D-UT), Pete Olson (R-TX), Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Bill Johnson (R-OH).

May 13, 2013