INGAA Letter to Senate Energy Committee on Pipeline Permitting


May 18, 2015

The Honorable Lisa Murkowski
Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Maria Cantwell
Ranking Member
Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Murkowski and Ranking Member Cantwell,

Thank you for conducting the May 14 hearing on energy infrastructure legislation. As part
of the record for that hearing, I am submitting the comments of the Interstate Natural Gas
Association of America, or INGAA. INGAA represents interstate natural gas transmission
pipeline operators in the U.S. and Canada. Our 24 members operate the vast majority of the
interstate natural gas transmission network, which is the natural gas industry analog to the
interstate highway system.

The approval and permitting process for interstate natural gas pipelines has become
increasingly challenging. While this remains a good, albeit complex, process, there have
been some trends in the wrong direction. What was once orderly and predictable is now
increasingly protracted and contentious.

Several bills have been introduced in the Senate to address the natural gas permitting
process. For example, S. 1210, introduced by Senator Capito, would make some modest
improvements in this process. While the pipeline certificate process at the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission generally functions in an orderly and timely fashion, interstate
pipelines still must seek a multitude of permits from federal and state agencies before
construction can begin. It is with these federal and state permits that many of the approval
delays occur. S. 1210 introduces reforms aimed at bringing additional transparency and
accountability to the permitting process for pipelines, and therefore has our support.
INGAA continues to believe, however, that permitting agencies should face consequences
for inaction or delay. We urge Congress to consider such consequences in future oversight
and legislative efforts.

INGAA also supports two bills – S. 411 introduced by Senator Barrasso and S. 1196
introduced by Senator Cassidy – that would allow the Department of the Interior to review
and approve natural gas pipeline rights of way on lands administered by the National Park
Service without seeking a project���������������������������specific authorization from Congress. The Department of
the Interior has had the authority to approve rights of way for electric, water and
communications facilities on these lands, without prior authorization from Congress, since
Theodore Roosevelt was president. The current process, which puts Congress in the role of
a de facto permitting agency for an individual natural gas pipeline project, is peculiar and
unnecessary. The Department of the Interior is perfectly capable of reviewing these
proposals and making balanced decisions on its own. This is entirely consistent with the
statutes authorizing other federal agencies, such as the Bureau of Land Management and
the U.S. Forest Service, to issue permits for natural gas pipelines. Seeking a project���������������������������specific
bill in Congress, which only allows the Department of the Interior to negotiate with a
pipeline developer for a right of way and does not authorize the permit itself, adds years to
the process. We hope Congress will act to delegate this permitting authority to the
Department of the Interior.

Thank you for allowing INGAA to submit these comments for the record. Please let us
know if you have any questions.


Donald F. Santa
cc: The Honorable John A. Barrasso
The Honorable William Cassidy
The Honorable Shelley Moore Capito