Obama says he will veto bill to fast track pipeline permits
A bill that would set a strict deadline for approving new pipeline project applications was voted out of a House committee on Tuesday but President Obama says he will veto it if it reaches his desk. Industry groups are pushing for the “Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act,” (HR 161), which is sponsored by Kansas Republican Mike Pompeo.
The bill would give FERC one year to decide on pipeline permits. Other federal agencies would then have 90 days to weigh in. If these deadlines aren’t met, the project would be considered approved. Tamara Young-Allen, a spokesperson for FERC, says on average the process takes 12 to 18 months. In a letter supporting the bill, America’s Natural Gas Alliance says the environmental review process required under the National Environmental Policy Act “lacks any real enforcement mechanism to ensure timely decisions by appropriate permitting agencies.”
The industry is in a rush to build new pipelines as a result of increased production in places like Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale. Pipeline capacity is full, and producers have seen the price of natural gas drop as a result.
In a statement issued Tuesday, the White House says it strongly opposes the measure.
“H.R. 161 could create conflicts with existing statutory and regulatory requirements and practices related to agencies’ programs, and preclude opportunities for engaging the public and potentially impacted communities, thereby causing confusion and the risk of increased litigation.”
A version of the bill was voted out of the House in 2013, but died when it reached the Democratically controlled Senate.