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New gas pipeline bill may cut down on project costs

Keywords: Tags  natural gas pipelines, House hearing, Donald Santa, Maya van Rossum, David Markarian, INGAA, pipeline, Thorsten Schier

NEW YORK — Proposed House legislation could avoid cost overruns for natural gas pipeline projects by cutting permitting time, the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power heard July 9.

"For one interstate pipeline company trying to replace a small, older interstate pipeline that extended across a reservoir owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a one-year, entirely avoidable delay resulted in a 6-percent cost escalation for the project," Donald Santa, president and chief executive officer of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA), a lobby group representing interstate pipeline companies, said during a hearing on the Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act, which would set stricter deadlines for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Ferc) and other regulating agencies to make decisions on natural gas pipeline projects (, May 10).

Opponents of the bill were concerned that its expedited deadlines could undermine necessary regulatory efforts.

"At a very fundamental level, (the House bill) undermines the power preserved and granted to the states to ensure protection of the health, safety and economies of their people," Maya van Rossum, Delaware Riverkeeper for the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, said.

However, an energy company representative disputed that the approval process would be less rigorous if the bill was passed.

"Its implementation will no doubt produce rejections as well as approvals. ... However, often in infrastructure development, a timely ‘no’ is much preferable to an interminable ‘maybe,’ " David Markarian, vice president of government affairs at Juno Beach, Fla.-based, NextEra Energy Inc., said during the hearing.

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