Yesterday, U.S. Representative Tom Marino (R-PA) introduced legislation that will enable the development of necessary infrastructure for more efficient production and delivery of affordable energy across the country. The Energy Infrastructure Improvement Act gives the Department of Interior the option to allow the development of natural gas or oil pipelines, or upgrades to existing pipelines, through federal lands.
"In my district, a pipeline expected to create 1,100 local jobs and transport over 600 million cubic feet of natural gas every day has been delayed and the route affects a number of private landowners because the company did not have the option to either expand its current right-of-way within the National Park or obtain a new one," said Marino. "Unfortunately, it was faced with the option of either waiting indefinitely for an Act of Congress or constructing an additional seven miles of pipeline to loop around the federal lands, disrupting more land in the process."
Under existing law, requests for the construction or maintenance of a pipeline used to transport oil or natural gas on certain federal lands, referred to as a right-of-way, must be approved through an Act of Congress. The Department of Interior previously issued such rights-of-way under federal law, but later declared certain lands as "off-limits." In addition to creating an unintended and unnecessary level of bureaucratic red tape on the oil and natural gas industry, this issue ultimately forces companies to delay critical structural maintenance and safety updates.
"No one's safety should be dependent on the Congress's expediency -- or lack thereof," Marino added.
The Energy Infrastructure Improvement Act would clarify that the Department of Interior has the authority to oversee and approve requests for rights-of-way through federal lands that are currently off limits, and would further allow for the renewal of rights-of-way, so long as the pipeline is in operation and the company is adhering to all laws and provisions within the agreement.
"Companies granted rights-of-way through federal lands will still be required to adhere to strict pipeline safety and environmental laws, like the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act, but will have more options to safely and efficiently construct, maintain, and operate their pipelines," Marino said. "To be clear, this legislation only provides for the installation and operation of pipeline -- not for any type of drilling -- and maintains all current authority granted to the Department of the Interior to take action if a company violates the terms of an agreement."
"At a time when families across the country are already struggling to make ends meet, we must be doing everything we can to promote and encourage affordable, domestic energy."