House bill on pipeline approval draws fire

Oct. 29, 2013 at 6:58 AM

WASHINGTON, Oct. 29 (UPI) -- A bill introduced by members of the U.S. House of Representatives on cross-border pipelines undermines federal oversight, government agencies said.

U.S. Reps. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Gene Green, D-Texas, and 15 cosponsors introduced legislation designed to facilitate the federal review of cross-border pipelines. Their bill would require federal approval within 120 days of an application's submission unless the pipeline is deemed not in the national interest.

Michael Knotek, deputy undersecretary for science and energy at the U.S. Department of Energy, said in a written statement Tuesday there are "a number of concerns" with the proposal.

"The bill would prevent the thorough consideration of complex issues that could have serious safety, environmental and other ramifications," he said.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said it too was concerned the measure would jeopardize its "thorough [and] efficient" review process for energy infrastructure.

Green, in a statement last week, said the proposal "strikes the right balance" between approval and environmental scrutiny.

House leaders like Upton have expressed frustration with the review process for the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which would cross the U.S.-Canadian border. It was proposed more than five years ago by Canadian pipeline company TransCanada.

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