WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) today applauded passage of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015. This broad, bipartisan bill was passed out of committee on an 18-4 vote. The final energy package included Senator Capito’s legislation to modernize the approval process for new pipelines.

“Implementing a commonsense energy policy is critically important to West Virginia and the country. I am pleased that the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015 we passed out of committee today includes several provisions to help grow West Virginia’s economy and ensure affordable, reliable energy,” said Senator Capito. “The rapid rise in natural gas production in the Marcellus Region has outpaced our pipeline capacity. I applaud the committee for including my pipeline bill in the energy package. This bill streamlines the pipeline approval process, making it easier for the U.S. to fully take advantage of its vast natural gas reserves and limit any overload on existing pipelines.”

The Energy Policy Modernization Act promises to bring substantial benefits to American families and businesses while protecting the environment. Its provisions will result in more affordable and reliable energy through expanded domestic production, investment in critical infrastructure and new technology, and modernization of the electrical grid. The bill also includes important provisions to boost carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies, increase liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports in West Virginia and across the country, and a permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

The bill that passed out of committee today includes legislation offered by Senator Capito to provide greater certainty around the timeframe for natural gas pipeline approvals and to help the U.S. provide adequate pipeline infrastructure. The amendment strengthens the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) role to better coordinate government agencies involved in the pipeline permitting process. FERC’s permitting and review process would be improved by requiring the following:

  • Commitments and cooperation from all federal and state agencies considering an aspect of the application.
  • Clear scheduling guidelines for coordinating agencies to issue associated permits.
  • Concurrent reviews where each federal and state agency considering any aspect of an application carries out its obligations concurrently and in conjunction with the NEPA review.
  • Accountability, transparency and efficiency by requiring FERC to publish an online “regulatory dashboard” to track information related to the permit review.