he Energy and Power Subcommittee today began its review of H.R. 3301, the North American Energy Infrastructure Act, legislation authored by Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Rep. Gene Green (D-TX). The bill aims to create a more modern, efficient, and transparent cross-border approval process for oil pipelines, natural gas pipelines, and electric transmission lines that traverse the borders of the United States.
As America's energy production continues to thrive, the architecture of abundance is needed to harness and deliver our growing resource supplies, but obstacles to constructing this necessary infrastructure remain as federal policies have failed to keep pace with the country's energy growth. This important legislation brings certainty to the current cross-border approval process -- a process that was created by multiple executive orders rather than as a unified strategy -- while still requiring compliance with all environmental and safety laws.
"New technologies and American innovation are unlocking vast amounts of previously untapped domestic energy resources, meaning greater access to affordable and reliable energy for all Americans," said Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY). "This energy boom is having a dramatic economic impact, creating thousands of new jobs and paving a path toward a brighter energy and fiscal future. But energy supply alone is not sufficient to achieve North American energy independence. We must also have in place the energy infrastructure necessary to deliver affordable and reliable energy across our northern and southern borders."
"Many new infrastructure projects, including oil and gas pipelines and electric transmission lines, will be needed to transport this growing energy abundance, including projects that cross our Northern or Southern borders. But these projects, and the jobs and economic growth they will help generate, can get delayed for years on end," added Upton. "Our energy policies should seek to safely and responsibly maximize our energy abundance and minimize pain to people's pocketbooks when it comes to energy prices. This bipartisan legislation is an important step forward as we work to develop the architecture of abundance to achieve North America's energy future."
Expressing the need for a modern-day regulatory framework, Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Mark Mills said, "It is inconceivable that the regulatory and legislative structures put in place over the past 40 years are still relevant or constructive in the New Normal of North American energy abundance."
Similarly, Jim Burpee, President and CEO of the Canadian Electricity Association, explained the many benefits that could come from a consistent cross-border permitting processes. "As it has done in the past, ongoing and future expansion of the physical linkages between the Canadian and U.S. segments of the grid will yield significant benefits to consumers," said Burpee. "Modernizing the Presidential Permit process would therefore not only present benefits in terms of enabling DOE to better meet its own time commitments for reviewing an application, it would also offer the added benefit of aligning more closely with the recent establishment of fixed deadlines for completion of corresponding reviews by the NEB in Canada."
Mary J. Hutzler, Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Institute for Energy Research, also lent her support to the legislation, stating, "[E]nergy infrastructure is key to enabling and enhancing our energy and economic prosperity, and anything Congress can do to reduce the barriers to energy infrastructure within North America would be most welcome. Already, our energy commerce with our neighbors is substantial, and is destined to grow as demand for energy increases here and around the world."