Republicans unveil sweeping effort to expand pipeline, energy infrastructure

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 related energy projects. The Pipeline Safety, Modernization, and Expansion Act of 2023 — authored by Energy and Commerce Committee Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., and Energy Subcommittee Chairman Jeff Duncan, R-S.C. — focuses on four key pillars: expanding pipeline infrastructure, lowering prices, reducing emissions and strengthening pipeline safety. “Pipelines are among the safest and most efficient ways to move the fuels that heat our homes, power our cars, and power our nation’s economy,” McMorris Rodgers and Duncan said in a joint statement to Fox News Digital.  “Yet President Biden and Democrats are proactively working to shut down America’s pipelines and prevent the necessary maintenance to ensure pipelines are operating safely and efficiently,” they continued. “The administration is also making it more difficult for new infrastructure to be built. This is preventing critical resources from getting to people who need them most.” BIDEN ADMIN QUIETLY SETTLES WITH ECO GROUPS TO RESTRICT OIL DRILLING IN GULF OF MEXICO Among its key provisions, the legislation would authorize the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to issue any federal permit required for the construction, modification, expansion, inspection, repair or maintenance of a pipeline. It would also enable individuals to request FERC make a final decision on a permit if the federal agency tasked with permitting a pipeline fails to complete a proceeding within one year. It would also prohibit a state or local jurisdiction from banning transportation of an energy source like natural gas that are sold in interstate commerce using a pipeline regulated by the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).  BIDEN ADMIN DELIVERS BLOW TO FOSSIL FUEL PROJECT IN VICTORY FOR ECO GROUPS Also, under the bill, PHMSA would be required to factor in “safety and economic benefits within the United States” when conducting its cost-benefit analysis of proposed pipeline regulations. “To address the needs of the American people, today, we are unveiling the Pipeline Safety, Modernization, and Expansion Act of 2023, which will ensure we can build more pipelines, maintain our current critical infrastructure, operate pipelines safely, transport more energy, and lower energy prices,” McMorris Rodgers and Duncan added.  “We look forward to continuing to engage with stakeholders on this draft legislation to ensure everyone will have access to these critical energy resources,” the two GOP leaders said. In addition, the draft legislation includes a number of provisions aimed at shoring up pipeline safety.  For example, it would require the PHMSA to conduct technical safety advisory meetings more regularly, up penalties for “damaging, destroying, or impairing the operation of” pipeline facilities, directs PHMSA to conduct a pilot program to test innovative pipeline safety technologies, and establishes a PHMSA information sharing system to “gather, evaluate, and quantify critical pipeline safety data and information to improve safety.” BIDEN ADMIN URGES SUPREME COURT TO REINSTATE MAJOR GAS PIPELINE IN WEST VIRGINIA And the bill would further require PHMSA to finalize safety standards for carbon dioxide transportation pipeline facilities no later than one year from the date of enactment. It also clarifies the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency to identify areas suitable for underground sequestration of carbon dioxide. That provisions would address how carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology is regulated. CCS is a nascent technology boosted by some environmentalists and which involves separating carbon emissions at fossil fuel-fired power plants and industrial factories before transporting that gas via pipeline into a deep underground cavern where it is stored forever.  The effort from McMorris Rodgers and Duncan on Tuesday comes amid a broader push from both Republicans and Democrats to streamline energy permitting. In May, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, reintroduced his Building American Energy Security Act. His office said the legislation was intended to serve as the starting point for upcoming conversations in Congress about “reforming energy permitting to ensure American energy security and independence.” Manchin first introduced the Building American Energy Security Act in September 2022 after Congress passed and President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act. The legislation was billed as a necessary counterpart to the IRA, ensuring that green energy projects supported by that bill would receive quicker federal approvals. After the legislation stalled, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., agreed in December to attach it to the annual National Defense Authorization Act in a move supported by Biden and green energy groups, but opposed by environmental groups. However, in a 47-47 vote where 40 Democrats and seven Republicans voted in favor of the bill, the Senate rejected the amendment.
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