Eliminates the Presidential permitting process of cross-border oil pipelines, natural gas pipelines, and electric lines, requiring that all requests for approval of cross-border oil pipelines be administered directly by the Secretary of Commerce and all requests for natural gas pipeline crossings be administered directly by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Such permits would be required to approved or denied in 120 days from the date of application. The bill also exempts these permit decisions from the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which requires analysis of the environmental effects of all major federal actions.
Under the current process, the permitting agency must determine that a project is in the “national interest” or “public interest.” Permits for such projects fall under the authority of the State Department, and therefore must be approved by the President. This bill would change who approves these permits.
The bill temporarily exempts from the new process any projects that are currently pending approval, though this exemption applies only until the project application is denied or July 1, 2016, at the latest. Thus, if the President determines that a pending project such as the Keystone XL pipeline is not in the public interest, that project could then reapply.