WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Paul A. Gosar D.D.S. (AZ-04), Chairman Emeritus Steve Pearce (NM-02), Chief Forestry Officer Bruce Westerman (AR-04), and Western Caucus Members Markwayne Mullin (OK-02), Bill Flores (TX-17), Trent Franks (AZ-08), Jason Smith (MO-08), Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (PA-05), Doug LaMalfa (CA-01) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) released the following statements after the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass H.R. 2910, the Promoting Interagency Coordination for Review of Natural Gas Pipelines Act (sponsored by Rep. Flores), and H.R. 2883, the Promoting Cross-Border Energy Infrastructure Act (sponsored by Rep. Mullin), with bipartisan votes of 248-179 and 254-175 respectively:

"I am proud to sponsor the Promoting Cross-Border Energy Infrastructure Act and see it pass with bipartisan support in the House today,” said Congressman Mullin. “By taking politics out of the approval process, we deliver certainty to what can often be a chaotic regulatory process. H.R. 2883 ensures that the construction of energy infrastructure across our borders follows a streamlined and transparent regulatory process each and every time. The passage of these energy bills today supports our country’s rapidly growing energy infrastructure and creates dependable, affordable energy for all Americans.”

Congressman Flores stated, “Thanks to the shale energy revolution, America is one of the world’s top producers of natural gas. While our nation’s families and industrial and manufacturing bases rely on this abundant fuel source, some areas of the country lack necessary pipeline infrastructure. This lack of infrastructure leads to unnecessarily inflated costs for electricity for both consumers and job creators. The Promoting Interagency Coordination for Review of Natural Gas Pipelines Act will allow us to fully harness this environmentally friendly, affordable and abundant resource by bringing greater transparency and accountability to the natural gas permitting process for interstate pipelines. These improvements encourage a more robust and reliable pipeline infrastructure system, which in turn will deliver clean, affordable natural gas to hardworking American families.”

“I applaud Congressmen Flores and Mullin for their leadership in passing two commonsense bills that take major steps towards streamlining energy project permitting processes and advancing the United States’ rightful place as the world’s preeminent producer of energy,” said Chairman Gosar. “For too long, cumbersome and nonsensical agency processes with contradictory requirements have stymied energy projects that should have been approved without delay – the Keystone XL pipeline being just one example. H.R. 2910 and H.R. 2883 modernize permit and project approvals and advance a strategic, all-of-the-above energy strategy.”

Congressman Pearce remarked, “New Mexico is not only a significant producer of natural resources, but also is a key player in the transportation of energy resources across the southern border. By reducing burdensome and duplicative regulations on infrastructure projects and putting sound provisions in place that promote efficiency and transparency, our state and nation will have greater opportunities for economic expansion. Southeastern New Mexico has seen an uptick in oil and gas production, which has increased jobs and revenues to the state. Unfortunately, the much needed infrastructure to support this production has lagged due to lengthy bureaucratic processes. These bills today provide necessary reforms to increase the certainty that companies need to improve our energy infrastructure. This will ensure that more product is captured, which will also reduce the amount of natural gas that is flared. Today’s actions demonstrates the House’s continued commitment to relieving our nation of the harmful over regulation, allowing us to get one step closer to an ‘all of the above’ energy plan that stimulates job growth and reinvests in New Mexico’s resource production.”

Congressman Westerman said, “Across America, natural gas has become a reliable and readily available energy source for everything from home heating to fuel for vehicles. If we are to continue growing our nation’s energy infrastructure, we must modernize the permitting process starting at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Allowing FERC to be the lead agency for permitting will simplify the process and reduce duplicative procedures, bringing more transparency and efficiency to an oft confusing process. The result is a more reliable energy pipeline system with more affordable prices which is a win-win for the American people.”

Republican Conference Chairwoman McMorris Rodgers stated, “As we continue to focus on solutions that improve people’s lives, the People’s House is committed to making energy more affordable and reliable for everyone. By modernizing our permitting process to promote better inter-agency coordination, and establishing cross-border procedures, these bills help bring our energy infrastructure into the 21st Century. Thank you to Reps. Flores and Mullin for fulfilling House Republicans’ promise to all Americans to update our energy infrastructure, which will lower energy costs for everyone.”

“The Obama administration created a maze of red tape to inhibit our energy sector from building and maintaining its infrastructure and coming up with solutions for our nation,” said Congressman Franks. “The left believes it is fighting a holy war against the energy industry, but what they are really doing is fighting a war against the regular American consumer. HR 2883 and HR 2910 are two steps towards removing some of that red tape and getting our country back on a path of cooperation between the government, our neighbors to the north and south, and the private sector so we can come up with solutions that will move us forward.”

Congressman Smith said, “American energy independence is a major part of our national security. With everything happening in the middle-east, knowing we can turn on our lights and put gas in our cars without relying on a foreign country is more important now that ever. I voted for H.R. 2910 and H.R. 2883 because they get rid of the government red tape and prevent future projects like the Keystone XL pipeline, which is bringing jobs to Missouri and greater energy independence to America, from being slowed down by Obama-era executive orders.”

“By designating the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as the lead regulator and modernizing the pipeline approval process, we can further unlock the great potential of American energy. Pipelines remain the safest way to move natural gas, but the maze of regulatory agencies and overlapping permitting requirements often impede development. American natural gas is abundant and by encouraging a more efficient permitting process, we can increase gas availability to consumer markets and lower energy prices for consumers and businesses alike,” said Congressman Thompson.

Congressman LaMalfa concluded: “In recent years, lack of coordination between federal agencies has delayed many important infrastructure projects – the recent Keystone XL pipeline immediately comes to mind. These delays are often unnecessary and only serve to hinder job growth. Establishing a more transparent and efficient review process for new projects is critical for American energy infrastructure. The United States must have a clear and modern process in place in order to maximize our position in the North American market.”

Background:

H.R. 2910 streamlines the permitting process for natural gas pipelines and tasks the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) as the agency of jurisdiction.

Specifically, the bill also requires FERC to coordinate with other participating agencies. The bill would codify FERCs current guidance that requires participating agencies to deny or approve a permit no later than 90 days after FERC completes review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

There are approximately 600,000 producing gas wells in the United States and more than 2.5 million miles of pipeline. Natural gas-related exports generated nearly $40 billion for our economy in 2015.

According to the American Petroleum Institute, “The natural gas value chain touches all states and a large number of industrial sectors supporting 2.9% of all non-farm jobs and contributing 3.1% of the national economy (GDP). These contributions to the U.S. economy are expected to grow in the future under each of the AEO scenarios examined here.”

According to an ICF - Infrastructure Study, by 2035 investment in oil and natural gas infrastructure:

Could create over a million jobs
Could result in $1.34 trillion in private natural gas and oil infrastructure investment
Could generate $1.89 trillion for U.S. GDP

Pipelines are the safest way to transport natural gas. All 50 states benefit from domestic natural gas production. Affordable natural gas provides significant savings for families. In addition, the industry provides good-paying jobs and significant benefits for our economy.

H.R. 2910 will aid in securing these benefits and provide a more solid platform from which to pursue an all-of-the-above, 21st century American energy policy.

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H.R. 2883 will modernize and streamline the process by which permits are issued for the construction, connection, operation, and maintenance of international border-crossing facilities pertaining to oil and natural gas transport as well as energy transmission.

The existent permitting system relies on Executive Order precedent dating back to the 1950s and vests permitting in an at-times arbitrary and nonsensical “Presidential Permit” process. This one-page document relies heavily on subjective determinations made by the permit reviewers.

In addition to the problem with subjectivity, the responsibilities at various stages of the permitting process was spread across several executive agencies. This produced an authorization quagmire wherein what would otherwise be routine, summary permitting processes instead languish for several years as they slog through agency review.

H.R. 2883 will cut through these unduly-lengthy processes by centralizing the permitting authority—for natural gas and oil pipelines, permitting decisions will become the authority of FERC, and for electric transmission facilities, they will now be the purview of the Secretary of Energy.

The bill will also ensure that permitting decisions follow a standardized review process instead of a subjective, one-page document. The Keystone XL pipeline is an example of a project which—because it was inexplicably deemed by the Obama Administration not to “serve the national interest,”—was denied on entirely non-substantive grounds.   back...
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