US Senators offer bill to improve FERC application review process

US Sens. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Angus S. King Jr. (I-Me.) introduced a bill aimed at improving coordination of federal interagency National Environmental Policy Act reviews of interstate natural gas project applications before the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

US Sens. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Angus S. King Jr. (I-Me.) introduced a bill aimed at improving coordination of federal interagency National Environmental Policy Act reviews of interstate natural gas project applications before the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Four national oil and gas associations immediately welcomed the Sept. 20 measure.

“By streamlining the permitting process, we can get pipelines from planning to serving the public faster and more efficiently,” Inhofe said. “This bill brings all federal, state, and local regulatory agencies to the table early on to coordinate participation—resulting in a more collaborative and timely review process.”

King noted, “By establishing timelines for federal reviews, the legislation cuts through red tape in a way that can deliver relief for Maine families and businesses facing high energy costs while in no way compromising environmental standards.”

The legislation is necessary because the permitting process for interstate gas pipelines has become more protracted and challenge despite the obvious need for them to be built, Interstate Natural Gas Association of America Pres. Donald F. Santa said.

“We hope the Senate takes prompt action on this legislation that will facilitate the responsible and orderly development of infrastructure, enabling consumers to enjoy more fully the benefits of America’s abundant and affordable natural gas supply,” he said.

More pipelines are essential for consumers to reap the full benefits of the shale gas revolution, according to Natural Gas Supply Association Pres. Dena E. Wiggins.

“Further development of pipeline infrastructure provides greater access to abundant domestic natural gas, which helps lower emissions and supports renewable energy,” she said. “This bill ensures that the environmental impacts of a pipeline project are carefully reviewed but in a manner that eliminates unnecessary delays in the process.”

Maintaining and expanding the domestic interstate gas pipeline system will help increase use of a fuel that has supported millions of jobs, lowered energy costs for consumers, and driven carbon emissions throughout the US economy down to levels not seen in nearly 25 years, said Khary Cauthen, senior federal relations director at the American Petroleum Institute. “While FERC’s review process is robust and thorough, it isn’t always timely or efficient,” Cauthen said.

Center for Liquefied Natural Gas Pres. Charlie Riedl suggested that improving the permitting process for such critical infrastructure will help reduce gas costs and provide more choices for millions of Americans. “This legislation offers hope to those in the liquefied natural gas industry as it provides a more efficient path for gas to move from wellhead to export terminal,” he said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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