As originally published by Ben Lefebvre in Politico Pro.
The House today passed a pair of bills designed to streamline permitting for pipelines and other energy infrastructure.
Lawmakers voted 248-179 in favor of H.R. 2910 (115) which would give FERC more sway over environmental reviews of interstate natural gas pipelines and require better coordination among various agencies involved in the process. Sponsored by Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas), the bill directs other state and federal agencies and tribal governments to defer to FERC’s decisions about what to include in those reviews and tells FERC to set deadlines for them to provide input.
Similar language is included in the Senate’s bipartisan energy bill, S. 1460 (115), which is awaiting action in the upper chamber. Last year’s wide-ranging energy bills, H.R. 8 (114) and S. 2012 (114), also included such a provision. However, last year’s version of the language said other agencies “may” defer to FERC; this year’s says they “shall” do so to the maximum extent possible.
The House also voted 254-175 today to pass H.R. 2883 (115), which would eliminate the State Department’s authority to permit pipelines or electric transmission projects that cross the U.S. border. That has been a goal for Republicans since the State Department, under former President Barack Obama, denied a cross-border permit to Keystone XL, but previous versions of the bill died in the Senate after passing the House.
The bill from Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) would place permitting authority for cross-border oil pipelines with FERC and give the Energy Department authority over permitting for electrical transmission.
WHAT’S NEXT: The bills now head to the Senate. A larger, bipartisan energy bill awaiting floor action in the upper chamber includes language addressing interstate natural-gas pipelines but not cross-border infrastructure.