The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Key to Infrastructure Plan is Streamlined Reviews

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted February 13, 2018

This week’s rollout of the administration’s $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan couldn’t be timelier, especially in terms of the energy space – given the need for more pipelines, gathering lines and storage facilities and for improving our ports and waterways. A recent ICF study estimated that private investment in natural gas and oil infrastructure could reach $1.34 trillion through 2035. The infrastructure need is clear.

Perhaps the most important aspect of the administration’s plan is taking steps to ensure that infrastructure happens – by streamlining federal reviews and permitting processes. It simply takes too long for energy projects to get approvals and permits, creating uncertainty that can hinder private investment in infrastructure that benefits consumers, manufacturers and the entire economy.

API President and CEO Jack Gerard said making federal project review faster and more efficient is critical to moving the country ahead:

“This private investment along with the administration’s proposal to stimulate $1.5 trillion of investment in America’s infrastructure is critical to powering our economy and the nation past the impossible. … Further, efforts announced today to promote certainty in the permitting process that is driven by sound science are critical to ensuring that Americans can continue to benefit from increased production and use of the energy they demand every day.”

The administration’s plan calls for spending $200 billion to seed $1.3 trillion in infrastructure investments from state and local governments and the private sector. It aims to address roads, bridges and other traditional types of infrastructure as well as energy infrastructure and other projects. President Trump:

“The reforms set forth in my plan will strengthen the economy, make our country more competitive, reduce the costs of goods and services for American families, and enable Americans to build their lives on top of the best infrastructure in the world.”

Certainly, this applies to improving our energy infrastructure system. The willingness to advance privately financed projects hinges in large part on reasonable expectations that projects can emerge from federal reviews and receive permits quicker and more efficiently. Among a number of proposals to expedite reviews and permitting, the administration plan calls for:

  • Establishing firm deadlines to complete environmental reviews and permitting decisions. 
  • Amending the Clean Water Act to prevent states from abusing their authority and blocking federally approved natural gas pipeline projects.
  • Ensuring that the EPA cannot prospectively or retroactively veto a Clean Water Act 404 dredge and fill permit.
  • Authorizing the Interior secretary to issue right-of-way permits for natural gas pipelines crossing National Park Service lands.

Our industry recognizes the need for safely adding to the nation’s energy infrastructure with new projects and by improving capacity in existing infrastructure. As the video below shows, technology, training and an overarching commitment to safety are embedded in this effort:

Gerard:

“As the infrastructure conversation advances, we look forward to our continued work with the administration and Congress on efforts that will allow communities across the country to fully benefit from American energy.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.