Two bills aimed at expediting pipeline construction permitting and, in turn, U.S. energy production are moving through the House of Representatives, but face opposition in the Senate and the White House. The Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act (subject of May 9, 2013 alert) passed the House of Representatives by a large majority on Thursday, November 21, 2013. The bill, HR 1900, was introduced by Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) to impose more stringent deadlines for agencies to issue licenses, permits or approvals for natural gas pipeline projects and to require FERC to approve or deny a certificate of public convenience or necessity no later than 12 months after providing public notice of the application. Despite its passage in the House, there is slim support for the bill in the Senate, with opponents citing the potential risks to public safety and the environment caused by insufficient review time. The White House has already threatened to veto the bill.
Another proposed bill, the North American Energy Infrastructure Act (subject of October 22, 2013 alert), was approved after markup by the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy on November 19, 2013. The bill would streamline and expedite permitting for cross-border pipelines and electric transmission facilities by eliminating the Presidential permitting process. While it is expected to pass before the full House of Representatives, the bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate.