The U.S. House of Representatives has passed two bills to ensure Americans retain access to sustainable supplies of affordable and reliable natural gas that have sparked a manufacturing revival while creating tens of thousands of jobs.
As House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton put it in an op-ed in July:
Instead of holding on to outmoded laws and regulations, we need to build the new Architecture of Abundance to create jobs, power our economy, and lower prices to consumers.
So, here we go:
H.R. 2728, introduced by Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas), would block the Department of the Interior from enforcing hydraulic fracturing rules in any state that already has regulations. The Flores legislation was approved 235-187, with a dozen Democrats voting for the bill. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) just introduced a similar bill in the upper chamber.
The House also passed H.R. 1900, introduced by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), which would expedite the permitting of natural gas pipelines needed to transport natural gas to manufacturers and consumers by imposing deadlines on government agencies. It was approved by the House in a 252-165 vote that gained the support of 26 Democrats and was endorsed by numerous organizations, including ACC.
In a statement, ACC expressed strong support for both bills:
H.R. 2728 will help maintain a healthy supply of competitively-priced natural gas while preserving quality, state-based regulatory oversight…. H.R. 2728 will level the field for production on federal, state and private lands and should result in increased production.
H.R. 1900 will streamline the pipeline permitting process, which will make it easier for the nation to get energy from where it is produced to manufacturers who need it. More than $90 billion in potential U.S. chemical industry investment already has been announced, and this legislation will help link these and forthcoming projects to production sites around the country.
Flores said the bill protects the nation’s energy security and helps maintain robust supplies of shale gas by limiting the federal Bureau of Land Management’s ability to slow energy production with unneeded regulation and red tape. Flores added:
America is in the midst of a transformation in the way that we produce energy domestically. The shale energy boom has brought about an energy revolution which is powering our economic recovery and creating hundreds of thousands of well-paying American energy jobs. Energy from affordable, abundant and clean natural gas has also put our country in a position to make us once again globally competitive in manufacturing and grow good, middle class jobs from our manufacturing renaissance.
In a floor speech, House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) said “hydraulic fracturing has been safely and effectively regulated by states for decades.” Hastings added that “duplicative” federal regulation would threaten the dramatic growth in natural gas production.
The bill requires the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to review gas pipeline permit applications within 12 months, with other agencies required to act 90 days after FERC’s review. If no action is taken by these deadlines, the pipeline application would be approved. “The bill will give certainty to natural gas pipeline developers that invest in projects which could transport affordable energy to consumers all across the nation,” Pompeo said.
The bill’s timing could hardly be better. A new Deloitte LLP study found that pipeline operators aren’t building infrastructure fast enough to keep up with soaring output from the Eagle Ford and Bakken shale plays.
ACC data shows affordable natural gas has triggered the announcement of more than $90 billion in potential U.S. chemical industry investment. ACC has repeatedly emphasized that government policy decisions could determine whether the U.S. takes full advantage of natural gas.
Needed policies include access to oil and natural gas reserves on federal, state and private lands, state-based regulation of natural gas production, and the development of the infrastructure needed to link natural gas production to manufacturing facilities.