On July 19, 2017, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that grants the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) increased autonomy over pipeline approvals. The bill, Promoting Interagency Coordination for Review of Natural Gas Pipelines Act (H.R. 2910), is aimed at streamlining the federal permitting process for pipeline approvals.
H.R. 2901 would specify timeframes and procedures for FERC and other affected agencies to follow in conducting environmental reviews related to natural gas pipelines. The bill would give FERC the authority to designate which other agencies will participate in the permitting and environmental review process, and FERC would hold primary authority by setting the terms of environmental reviews, requiring other federal agencies to defer to FERC. In addition, all National Gas Act reviews would be required to proceed concurrently and finish within 90 days of the environmental review, unless otherwise mandated by law.