WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, introduced legislation today to modernize and improve the timeframe for the approval of new pipelines.

The Oil and Gas Production and Distribution Reform Act strengthens the role of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to better coordinate government agencies involved in the pipeline permitting process. The bill is co-sponsored by Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA).

“West Virginia’s Marcellus Region has the largest shale gas reserves in the United States. This rapid rise in production in the Marcellus Region has been great for our economy but has outpaced our pipeline’s capacity,” said Sen. Capito. “This bill increases pipeline capacity, allowing the U.S. to fully take advantage of its vast natural gas reserves and limit any overload on existing pipelines.”

This legislation would provide more certainty around the timeframe for pipeline approvals and allow the U.S. to provide adequate pipeline infrastructure. America’s oil and natural gas production is increasing, yet there is a shortage of pipelines to support moving these natural resources. The current permitting process for pipelines often takes months or years. The slow and uncertain regulatory approval process delays construction, which delays manufacturing projects and hurts families and businesses that rely on affordable energy.

“A key piece of developing and implementing a multifaceted, bipartisan energy strategy includes building out our energy infrastructure to meet our energy transportation needs,” said Sen. Heitkamp. “It just makes sense that oil and gas pipeline applications should be addressed in a timely manner so we can more efficiently site and construct additional pipelines while paving the way for North American energy independence and security. This bill is the type of commonsense energy policy that I’ve been talking about since I came to the Senate – and was an issue I was glad to work on with Senator Capito.”

“American energy production is accelerating, but the approval process to build the infrastructure to move these resources is stuck in neutral,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Streamlining the approval process saves taxpayer money and ensures families have access to reliable energy to fuel their cars, heat their homes and run their businesses.”

Through the Oil and Gas Production and Distribution Reform Act, FERC’s permitting and review process would be improved by requiring the following: 

  • Commitments and cooperation from all federal and state agencies considering any aspect of the application; 

  • Firm deadlines for coordinating agencies to issue associated permits;

  • Concurrent reviews where each federal and state agency considering an aspect of an application carries out its obligations concurrently and in conjunction with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review;

  • Issue identification and resolution to prevent unnecessary delays or permit denials;

  • Expedited processing to allow an applicant to fund a third party contractor or FERC staff to assist in preparing and reviewing their application; and

  • Accountability, transparency and efficiency by requiring FERC to publish an online “regulatory dashboard” to track information related to the permit review.