Watson Coleman, Malinowski Introduce Bill to Ensure Full Reviews of Proposed Pipelines

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Washington, DC, March 31, 2021 | comments

Today, Congressmembers Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) and Tom Malinowski (NJ-7) announced the introduction of the Safe and Accountable Federal Energy Review for Pipelines Act of 2021 (H.R. 2115). The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has for years relied on outdated private agreements to determine whether to approve future natural gas pipelines, failing to comprehensively evaluate or consider duplicate, competing or contiguous pipelines and their impact on local environments. This abbreviated process has resulted in the approval of over 470 natural gas pipelines between 1999 and 2019 with only two rejected applications.

“The current process for pipeline approval lacks the necessary oversight to protect our natural environment and ensure future generations can live on a safe and clean planet,” said Congresswoman Watson Coleman, member of the Energy and Water Development Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee. “The SAFER Pipelines Act will ensure the approval of future pipelines consider existing capacity as well as closely monitor the environmental impacts of new construction.”

“For decades, the approval process for natural gas pipelines has failed landowners in New Jersey and across the country,” said Congressman Malinowski. “I am proud to partner with Rep. Watson Coleman on the SAFER Pipelines Act, a bill to increase oversight of the approval process and to ensure that the environmental and safety concerns of local communities are properly heard and considered before new pipelines are approved.”


The SAFER Pipelines Act of 2021 would improve the FERC review process for natural gas pipeline projects by implementing the following reforms:

  • Hearing & Cumulative Review of Pipeline Expansion: amends the Natural Gas Act to require FERC to conduct an evidentiary hearing and/or a cumulative review of major energy infrastructure projects planned throughout the region, their stated purposes, and necessity relative to potential impacts on state and regional energy goals prior to approving a certificate for any proposed pipeline expansion project.
  • Consider various important factors, such as the existence of other regional pipelines or underutilized pipeline capacity: requires FERC to undertake additional analysis to determine potential cumulative impacts from other pipelines within the same State as well as those within 100 miles of a proposed project.
  • Subsequent Monitoring: requires FERC to monitor all approved and constructed projects for five years to confirm that the environmental impacts have in fact been mitigated per the terms of the certificate of approval.

 

The SAFER Pipelines Act is cosponsored by Representatives Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-At Large) and Steve Cohen (TN-9).

Text for the SAFER Pipelines Act can be found here.

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