COLUMN: Progress Towards an All-of-the-Above Energy Strategy
Energy demand is growing in the United States. In order to meet the energy needs of the future, it is critical that we develop and all-of-the-above energy strategy that incorporates renewable resources, as well as responsible development of fossil fuels.
I recently introduced the Planning for American Energy Act, which is a bill that would set us on the path towards creating an all-of-the-above energy strategy by requiring the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior to develop forward-looking energy plans that include all resources: wind, solar, hydropower, geothermal, oil, natural gas, coal, oil shale and minerals.
We will need to make significant investments in energy infrastructure in order to make an all-of-the-above energy future a reality, but the current permitting process for energy infrastructure is a spider web of regulations that often prevents important projects from moving forward.
We recently passed two bills in the House of Representatives to address the permitting process for natural gas and oil pipelines. The two bills, the Promoting Interagency Coordination for Review of Natural Gas Pipelines Act (H.R. 2910) and the Promoting Cross-Border Energy Infrastructure Act (H.R. 2883), centralize permitting authority within the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
Too often, energy infrastructure projects get held up in the permitting process for years, even decades. The cost of the project grows and there is no certainty that it will ever be approved. The result? Fewer companies are inclined to build the infrastructure we’ll need to meet future energy demands.
The Promoting Interagency Coordination for Review of Natural Gas Pipelines Act would address part of this problem by requiring any federal agency that is participating in an infrastructure project to either deny or approve a permit within 90 days of FERC completing its review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
Another issue that has prevented energy infrastructure projects from moving forward is the lack of any standardized permit process for international projects – projects that cross from the U.S. into Canada or Mexico. Currently, the approval process for international projects follows Executive Order precedent, which can be highly subjective. The lack of certainty hurts U.S. energy infrastructure.
The Promoting Cross-Border Energy Infrastructure Act creates a streamlined, standardized process within FERC for permitting cross-border projects. The bill would also give the Secretary of Energy the authority to approve electric transmission facility projects.
Both of the bills we passed this week are not only critical to U.S. energy security, but they will also help support good-paying jobs in Colorado. The Western Energy Alliance reports that responsible oil and gas development in the Third Congressional District alone supports over 7,800 direct and indirect jobs, totaling over $820 million in wages and over $2.2 billion in total economic output. Sustaining these jobs and their resulting economic output requires investments in energy infrastructure.
While we still have a long way to go, we’ve already seen progress from efforts to simplify and streamline federal regulations. I’m committed to ensuring our regulatory process supports the infrastructure investments we’ll need to create an all-of-the-above energy future and grow good-paying jobs in the United States.