WASHINGTON, D.C.—Ensuring a timely turnaround for oil and gas pipeline projects is the goal behind a bill now making its way through the U.S. Senate.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-West Virginia, introduced the bill on May 6.
A capacity boost
Capito said in a statement
that the bill would help increase the country’s oil and gas pipeline capacity, which is particularly important in her region, where natural-gas production from the Marcellus Shale has exceeded the industry’s ability to carry it away.
“West Virginia’s Marcellus Region has the largest shale gas reserves in the United States," said Capito. "This rapid rise in production in the Marcellus Region has been great for our economy, but has outpaced our pipeline’s capacity."
The bill, which has been referred to the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is co-sponsored by Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA).
“A key piece of developing and implementing a multifaceted, bipartisan energy strategy includes building out our energy infrastructure to meet our energy transportation needs,” Heitkamp said in a statement
“It just makes sense that oil and gas pipeline applications should be addressed in a timely manner so we can more efficiently site and construct additional pipelines while paving the way for North American energy independence and security.”
The bill is similar in intent to one that the House passed in January. That bill, the Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act (H.R. 161)
, would impose a one-year deadline on FERC to decide whether to issue certificates of public convenience and establish a 90-day deadline for other agencies to approve associated permits and licenses.
“It just makes sense that oil and gas pipeline applications should be addressed in a timely manner so we can more efficiently site and construct additional pipelines while paving the way for North American energy independence and security," said co-sponsor Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND).
“However, 12 months could represent a reduction in the review time that might be expected for atypically lengthy or complex pipeline projects, perhaps routed through heavily populated or environmentally sensitive areas," the report said.
“The safety or environmental reviews for such projects might place them in the ‘tail’ of the review time distribution reported by GAO."
The effect of the 90-day agency deadline also is debatable, the report said.
“Note that this deadline occurs only after FERC’s environmental review is completed, so other agencies would presumably have months during FERC’s … review to conduct reviews of approvals under their jurisdiction.”