January 31, 2023

With just days left in the 117th Congress, outgoing US Senator Pat Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania, introduced a measure that would ease the pipeline permitting process.

The Pipeline Permitting for Energy Security Act is described as creating regulatory certainty for the construction of natural gas pipelines in the United States. Specifically, it would authorize the completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which stretches 303 miles from northwestern West Virginia to southern Virginia.

Completion of this pipeline could provide better access to natural gas from Pennsylvania.

“It is high time that activists and the politicians who manage them stopped exploiting outdated laws to prevent the construction of pipelines, which are the safest and most efficient way to transport natural gas,” Toomey said in a statement. “Hampering sane, essential energy infrastructure projects has led to higher energy costs, increased global dependence on energy produced by tyrants like Vladimir Putin, and ironically prevents increased distribution of the energy source most responsible for reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions responsible for.”

Senate session days are almost over and the bill will die by the end of the year, but an adviser said it has been introduced as a standalone bill and the hope is to expand the approval talk already underway. Multiple stakeholders support the language in Toomey’s bill, and there is significant interest in pushing permit reform both inside and outside of Congress, the adviser said.

Epoch Times photo
Pennsylvania Lt. gov. John Fetterman, then Democratic Senate nominee, is greeted on stage during a rally at the Bayfront Convention Center in Erie, Pennsylvania on August 12, 2022. (Nate Smallwood/Getty Images)

Toomey will be replaced by Democrat John Fetterman, who has spoken out both for and against the gas industry.

House takes it to the next session

US Rep. Mike Kelly, a Pennsylvania Republican, introduced a bill on Toomey’s proposal and is expected to follow it up at the next session.

Epoch Times photo
Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) during an interview with The Epoch Times’ American Thought Leaders program at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Fla. on Feb. 28, 2021. (The Epoch Times )

“Pennsylvania is the second largest natural gas producing state in the country, and I am committed to ensuring that the state of Keystone can continue to serve as an energy leader in the United States and around the world,” Kelly said in a statement. “The Biden administration, during his first two years in office, imposed so many onerous regulations on our domestic energy production, driving up costs and eroding the value of Americans’ hard-earned dollars. This law eases the regulatory conditions so that pipelines can transport this gas from Pennsylvania to the Northeastern United States, ultimately reducing energy costs for families and businesses. I thank Senator Toomey for his combined efforts to ensure Pennsylvania can lead America’s energy comeback.”

Specifically, the Pipeline Permitting for Energy Security Act would:

• Limit government authority to delay pipeline construction by mandating specific deadlines for Clean Water Act reviews.
• Clarify non-water quality factors that should not be considered in the Clean Water Act review process.
• Provide a clear scope of navigable waters included in the Clean Water Act review.
• Protect the use of general permits to prevent double verification of construction along the same pipeline.
• Streamlining the National Environmental Policy Act review process for large federal projects.
• Prevent expansion of Endangered Species Act qualifications to block pipeline infrastructure.
• Shortening the standard consultation periods for the Endangered Species Act and creating a new expedited consultation process for projects proven to have minimal impact.

“The Biden administration has imposed tough, over-the-top regulations that have hampered American energy production during a period of record inflation and energy prices across the board,” Matt Knoedler, Kelly’s communications director, told The Epoch Times.

“We’re working to simplify the production of clean natural gas and reduce energy costs so hard-working Americans can save money. Also, with Republicans now in a majority in the House of Representatives, we are making good on our promise to pass legislation that will allow for more American energy production and lower costs for Americans,” Knoedler said.

“We are also interested in working on this issue at the 118th Congress if it is not included in an agreement this year. So we think there are multiple avenues for this legislation.”

Beth Brelje

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Beth Brelje is a national investigative journalist who covers politics, wrongdoing and the stories of everyday people confronted with extraordinary circumstances. Send her your story ideas: [email protected]

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