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By Mr. SPECTER:
S. 3733. A bill to require the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to hold at least 1 public hearing before issuance of a permit affecting public or private land use in a locality; to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
Mr. SPECTER. Mr. President, I seek recognition to speak on legislation I am introducing that will require the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to hold at least one public hearing before issuance of a permit affecting public or private land use in a locality.
Increasing demand for electricity throughout the Northeast is putting a strain on energy infrastructure in my state, necessitating new transmission lines and natural gas pipelines and the expansion of existing ones. In Southwestern and Northeast Pennsylvania transmission line expansions are planned over hundreds of miles of private property, while in the Southeast natural gas pipeline expansions are underway.
There is no doubt these projects can be invasive, and rarely do they fail to be controversial. I make a point of touching all of Pennsylvania's 67 counties each year. In traveling Pennsylvania this fall I heard a lot of complaints from constituents who oppose these infrastructure projects, and who felt their concerns were being ignored by the energy companies and by FERC.
I realize there will always be some opposition to large infrastructure projects. What is unacceptable, however, is for the voices of Pennsylvanians to be ignored. It may be the case that these projects are necessary to meet increased energy demand. Nonetheless, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission must seriously consider and evaluate local concerns in a sensitive manner.
To ensure citizens throughout the commonwealth have a voice in the development of energy infrastructure, my legislation will mandate that FERC hold an open hearing in the affected communities. State Public Utility Commissions, who have a great say in these matters, are beyond Congress' reach. But where the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is involved we can take steps to ensure that our constituents' concerns receive due consideration. Holding a hearing may not lead to all sides agreeing on the proper route forward, but at the very least my Pennsylvania constituents will come away with the satisfaction of having publicly aired their grievances.
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