House bill aims to expedite US gas pipeline construction

US Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) introduced a bill on May 9 that aims to expedite construction of US natural gas pipelines by streamlining the permitting process and expediting approvals.

Several parts of the country don’t have the necessary pipeline capacity as more gas is used to generate electricity, the House Energy and Commerce Committee member noted. Dramatic gas production growth also is occurring in areas of the US without pipeline access to markets, he added.

HR 1900 would amend Sect. 7 of the Natural Gas Act by requiring US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approval of a new gas pipeline within 12 months of its application’s public notice. An agency responsible for issuing a siting, construction, capacity expansion, or operating permit or license could request a 30-day extension.

“This bipartisan piece of legislation makes common sense reforms to the natural gas pipeline permitting process,” Pompeo said. Energy and Commerce Committee members Jim Matheson (D-Utah), Pete Olson (R-Tex.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), and Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) are cosponsors. US Reps. Fred Upton (R-Ohio), the committee’s chairman, and Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), who chairs its Energy and Power Subcommittee, also support the measure.

Interstate Natural Gas Association Pres. Donald F. Santa immediately expressed support for the bill, which he said reflects the principal recommendation from a December 2012 INGAA Foundation report on permitting.

The report found that, while FERC does an effective job of reviewing applications for authority to build pipelines, it lacks the authority to enforce permitting deadlines for other federal and state agencies, Santa said.

“The lack of enforceable permitting deadlines increasingly is causing pipeline project delays,” Santa said. “Providing clear permitting deadline authority will add certainty to the process and encourage timely decision-making.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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