Hoeven, Donnelly, Murkowski, Manchin Introduce Measure to Streamline Cross-Border Permitting Process, Preventing Long Delays to Projects Like Keystone XL

WASHINGTON – Senators John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) today introduced the North American Energy Infrastructure Act, a measure that will prevent unnecessarily protracted delays for important energy infrastructure projects like the Keystone XL pipeline. The Keystone XL pipeline is now in its sixth year of review following five favorable environmental impact studies (EIS).

The North American Energy Infrastructure Act eliminates the Presidential Permit requirement for projects crossing the national boundary between the United States and Canada or Mexico and puts the decision making into the hands of appropriate agencies. The legislation also:

  • Imposes a 120-day time limit on the U.S. State Department to either issue a certificate of crossing or deny a project approval following completion of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process.
  • Focuses the NEPA process to the federal section of the pipeline – the portion that crosses the border and recognizes that the states are the ones to regulate the siting of pipelines within their boundaries.
  • Expedites natural gas pipeline permits to Canada or Mexico by requiring the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to approve the permit within 30 days of receipt and
  • Streamlines the electrical transmission permits by consolidating two separate DOE reviews into one determination.

“With our closest friend and ally Canada, we can produce more energy than we use, but we can’t get to the point of energy independence without the infrastructure necessary to achieve it,” Senator John Hoeven said. “ISIS is reported to be making more than a million dollars a day selling oil from the land it occupies in the Middle East. Energy infrastructure projects are too important to our economy and our national security to be dragged out, virtually for years in the case of the Keystone XL pipeline. We need a process that is fact-based and transparent, a process that looks out for the interests of the American people now and into the future. Our bill achieves that goal.”

“A strong energy economy is an essential part of both Indiana’s and our country’s economic successes and critical to our national security. We need to streamline the process for approval of energy infrastructure projects, so that they are not subject to endless, unnecessary delays. I have long advocated for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline because it is in our economic and national security interests. I am pleased to join my friend, Senator Hoeven to introduce this commonsense legislation to help streamline the approval process for energy infrastructure projects like the Keystone XL pipeline, and I hope the Senate will consider it yet this fall,” said Senator Joe Donnelly.

“This legislation will help us avoid future political pandering that makes hostages of commonsense decisions related to our energy security and economy. The jobs, economic activity, and enhanced security that the Keystone XL pipeline represents should have been realized years ago. Unfortunately, politics got in the way of decisions that would have strengthened the ties with our neighbor and closest ally. This bill will ensure such debacles are not repeated, while maintaining strong environmental protections,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski.

“It is important to strike a balance between adopting regulations that are necessary to protect our environment and managing the adverse economic impact these regulations have on investment and growth,” Senator Manchin said. “This bipartisan, bicameral legislation would make it easier for companies to go through the approval process needed to attain pipeline and transmission permits with Canada or Mexico while also reducing the economic burden of unnecessary or redundant regulations. I am pleased to have worked on this commonsense bill with my good friend, Senator John Hoeven. This bill would not only expedite the process of new cross-border pipeline projects that create jobs and promote economic prosperity, but it would also help expedite projects like the Keystone Pipeline.”

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a similar measure in June, 238-173. The Senate bill can be found here.