The White House has threatened to veto a bill expected to pass the House this week that would remove any Keystone-like delays from pipeline projects that enter the U.S. from Canada or Mexico.
The North American Energy Infrastructure Act, authored by Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas), requires the secretary of Commerce, with respect to oil pipelines, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), with respect to natural gas pipelines, or the Secretary of Energy (DOE), with respect to electric transmission facilities, to approve a request for approval of construction, connection, operation, or maintenance unless it is not in U.S. national security interests.
“The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 3301, which would require the specified Secretary to issue a ‘certificate of crossing’ for any cross-border segment of an oil pipeline (Secretary of State) or electric transmission facility (Secretary of Energy) within 120 days after the completion of the environmental review, unless the Secretary finds that the cross-border pipeline or electric transmission facility ‘is not in the public interest of the United States,’” the Office of Management and Budget said in a statement this morning.
“The bill’s 120-day approval requirement would circumvent the current authority for issuing Presidential Permits for cross-border pipelines and transmission facilities provided by Executive Orders 13337 and 10485, as amended, which allow for the full consideration of the complex issues raised by the building of such infrastructure. That process dates back through many Administrations and has effectively addressed cross-border permitting decisions in a manner that serves the national interest,” continued the OMB.
The administration claims Upton’s bill to remove such barriers on projects “would impose an unreasonable deadline that would curtail the thorough consideration of the issues involved, which could result in serious security, safety, foreign policy, environmental, economic, and other ramifications.”
“By preventing the opportunity for the necessary assessment of all factors relevant to the national interest, the bill would create significant policy risks and create legal uncertainty for permitting applicants. Additionally, the bill would prevent assessment of whether modifications to border-crossing pipelines or electric transmission facilities are in the national interest, which is provided for through the current process,” the OMB said.
“H.R. 3301 would also raise serious trade implications by eliminating the current statutory requirement that the Department of Energy authorize orders for exports and imports of natural gas to and from Canada and Mexico,” continued the statement. “Because H.R. 3301 would circumvent longstanding and proven processes for determining whether cross-border pipelines and electric transmission facilities are in the national interest by removing the Presidential permitting requirement, if presented to the President, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto this bill.”