Fracking Insider Readers: We are pleased to bring you the first volume of our Federal Legislative Roundup, including updates on three pieces of legislation currently under consideration in the House: “The Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act,” “The Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act,” and “The North American Energy Infrastructure Act.” We designed the Roundup to provide quick overviews of bills that are being considered in Congress. If you have any questions on any of these summaries, please do not hesitate to ask.

H.R. 1900, the Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act – The bill, which is cosponsored by 22 Republicans and one Democrat, would:

  • require the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to approve or deny a permit application for a natural gas pipeline project within 12 months of providing public notice of the application;
  • require the agency responsible for issuing any federal license, permit, or approval regarding the siting, construction, or expansion of a project to approve or deny the authorizing certificate within 90 days of FERC issuing its final environmental document regarding the project; and
  • state that any approval document shall go into effect if the responsible agency neither approves nor denies its issuance within the 90-day time period (with the possibility of a 30-day extension).

The bill has been considered and marked up by the Subcommittee on Energy and Power, and the full Energy and Commerce Committee. A House report, H. Rpt. 113-269, was issued on November 18th. However, the White House has threatened to veto the bill if it passes the Senate, noting that an agency may decide to deny a permit that would otherwise be approved if it is unable to obtain adequate information by the deadline, thereby undermining the legislation’s intent.

H.R. 1965, the Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act – The bill, which is cosponsored by three Republicans, would:

  • deem an energy project permit application approved if the Secretary of the Interior has not made a decision on it within 60 days of its receipt;
  • direct the Secretary to offer for sale at least 25% of the annual nominated acreage not previously made available for lease, in conducting lease sales under the Mineral Leasing Act; and
  • restrict the ability of the Secretary to withdraw, delay or cancel leases after a competitive sale has occurred.

The bill has been considered and marked up by the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, and the full Natural Resources Committee. A House report, H. Rpt. 113-262, was issued on November 12th. The bill was debated and amended on the House floor on November 19th.

H.R. 3301, the North American Energy Infrastructure Act – The bill, which is cosponsored by nine Republicans and eight Democrats, would:

  • require approval of an application for a cross-border energy project within 120 days of receipt of the application, unless the relevant official finds that the project is not in the “national security interest” of the U.S.;
  • deem the relevant official as the Secretary of Commerce with respect to oil pipelines, FERC with respect to natural gas pipelines, and the Secretary of Energy with respect to electric transmission facilities;
  • clarify that no order is necessary to authorize export or import of natural gas to or from Canada or Mexico.

The bill was considered and marked up by the Subcommittee on Energy and Power on November 20th, and was reported to the full Energy and Commerce Committee for consideration.

With assistance from Andrew McNamee