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Public Statements

North American Energy Infrastructure Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

My amendment ensures that the complete length of cross-border projects would be subject to full environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA.

NEPA was created to provide transparency so people would know what the impact of a project will be on their communities. However, H.R. 3301 will circumvent that transparency, making our lands vulnerable to spills, leaks, and other pipeline hazards, and this is why I have introduced this amendment, which will make certain proper diligence is given to protect the public's interests.

By ensuring a Federal NEPA review is conducted for the entire length of all cross-border projects, we can guarantee all proposals will get the full scope of review necessary to preserve our tremendous natural resources.

Unfortunately, H.R. 3301 makes an end run around NEPA. The bill redefines and significantly narrows the scope of NEPA's environmental review. While traditional NEPA review looks at the impacts of an entire project, this bill restricts NEPA review to only that portion of a project that physically crosses the border, and this restriction doesn't make any sense.

These massive projects are more than just a border crossing. When we approve transboundary pipeline or transmission line, we are approving a multibillion dollar infrastructure that may stretch hundreds of miles and will last for decades.

These projects pass through private property and sensitive lands and over aquifers. They transport hazardous substances that, if spilled or ignited, can cause serious damage.

Before making decisions about whether to approve such projects, we need to carefully consider their potential impacts on environment and on communities along their routes. Simply put, we should be looking at the effects of projects as a whole.

That is not what the bill before us does. Instead, it redefines the scope of NEPA's inquiry to only encompass the step across the border, and this is a nonsensical approach. It makes the process of environmental review essentially meaningless.

When Congress passed NEPA, it never intended this law to provide such a narrow review. Congress intended NEPA to provide policymakers with a critical tool to understand a project's full environmental impacts and consider lower-impact alternatives.

NEPA doesn't dictate the outcome or impose any constraint on projects. It simply requires the Federal Government to make some effort to understand the environmental impacts of major Federal actions and to inform the public of those impacts.

We should not be carelessly narrowing or creating loopholes in this law. When the Federal Government makes a decision about a major project, it should understand what it is doing.

As we have seen with Keystone XL, large energy projects often raise safety issues, economic implications, and environmental concerns, both for the local and global environments.

These projects affect communities all along their routes. It is simply common sense that we should understand the broad scope of these impacts before deciding to approve a project.

Unfortunately, the bill before us today prevents this review, which is why I urge all of my colleagues to support this important amendment that ensures that the complete length of cross-border projects would be subject to a full NEPA review.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

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