First on Fox: Republican leaders on the House Energy and Commerce Committee are unveiling a draft of legislation aimed at streamlining permitting for pipelines and other energy-related projects.
Pipeline Safety, Modernization, and Expansion Act of 2023 — Energy and Commerce Committee Chairwoman Kathy McMorris Rogers, R-Wash., and Energy Subcommittee Chairman Jeff Duncan, RS.C. – Focuses on four key pillars: expanding pipeline infrastructure, reducing costs, reducing emissions and strengthening pipeline safety.
“Pipelines are among the safest and most efficient ways to transport the fuels that heat our homes, power our cars, and power our nation’s economy,” McMorris Rogers and Duncan said in a joint statement to Fox News Digital.
“Yet President Biden and the Democrats are actively working to shut down America’s pipelines and prevent the maintenance necessary to ensure pipelines operate safely and efficiently,” he continued. “The administration is making it more difficult to build new infrastructure. It’s preventing critical resources from reaching those who need them most.”
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Among its key provisions, the legislation would authorize the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to issue federal permits required for the construction, modification, expansion, inspection, repair or maintenance of any pipeline. It would also enable individuals to request that FERC make a final decision on a permit if the federal agency tasked with permitting the pipeline fails to complete the process within one year.
It would also prohibit state or local jurisdictions from prohibiting the transportation of energy sources such as natural gas that are sold in interstate commerce using federal pipelines and pipelines regulated by the Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).
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In addition, under the bill, PHMSA would be required to consider “safety and economic benefits within the United States” when conducting a cost-benefit analysis of proposed pipeline regulations.
“To meet the needs of the American public, today, we are unveiling the Pipeline Safety, Modernization and Expansion Act of 2023, which will ensure we can build more pipelines, maintain our existing critical infrastructure, operate pipelines safely, transport more energy, and lower energy prices,” added McMorris Rodgers and Duncan.
“We look forward to continuing to engage with stakeholders on this draft legislation to ensure that everyone has access to these important energy resources,” the two GOP leaders said.
In addition, the draft law includes several provisions aimed at enhancing pipeline safety.
For example, it would require PHMSA to hold technical safety advisory meetings more regularly, impose penalties for “damaging, destroying or defacing” pipeline facilities, direct PHMSA to conduct a pilot program to test pipeline safety technologies, and establish PHMSA information sharing systems.
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And the bill would require PHMSA to finalize safety standards for carbon dioxide transportation pipeline facilities within one year of the enactment date. It also clarifies the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to identify areas suitable for underground sequestration of carbon dioxide.
These provisions will address how carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology is regulated. CCS is a new technology promoted by some environmentalists that involves sequestering carbon emissions from fossil-fueled power plants and industrial plants before transporting the gas through a pipeline to a deep underground cavern where it is stored forever.
The effort Tuesday by McMorris Rogers and Duncan comes amid a broader push from both Republicans and Democrats to streamline energy permitting.
In May, Sen. Joe Manchin, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, DW.Va. Reintroduced his building the American Energy Security Act. His office said the legislation was intended to serve as a starting point for future discussions in Congress about “reforming energy authorization to ensure American energy security and independence.”
Manchin first introduced the Building American Energy Security Act in September 2022 after congressional approval and President Biden. Signed the Inflation Reduction Act. The legislation was billed as an essential counterpart to the IRA, ensuring that green energy projects supported by the bill would receive federal approval sooner.
After the legislative impasse, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y. agreed in December to attach it to the annual National Defense Authorization Act, which was supported by Biden and green energy groups, but opposed by environmental groups. However, in a 47-47 vote with 40 Democrats and seven Republicans voting in favor of the bill, the Senate rejected the amendment.