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house Bill H.R. 3301

Speeding Up the Oil Pipeline Approval Process by Loosening Federal Environmental Oversight

Argument in favor

Reducing environmental oversight of private sector energy projects allows North American economies to more effectively compete in global energy markets. A quick approve-or-deny process is both fair and vital.

Argument opposed

A blatant attempt to sidestep environmental oversight of pipeline projects. Increases likelihood of oil spills and ignores public sentiment on pipeline projects.

What is House Bill H.R. 3301?

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.


Changes who gets final say of these types of projects. The 120-day limit of approval or denial of a project would afford businesses a clearer understanding of when construction would or could start, aiding them. The bill’s narrower NEPA standard and NEPA exemption would disallow federal agencies from considering a project based on environmental, safety, economic, or competitiveness impacts.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 3301

A CBO cost is unavailable at this time.

More Information

In Detail: 

The bill, called the North American Energy Infrastructure Act:

 Consolidates and standardizes the cross-border approval process for oil pipelines, natural gas pipelines, and electric transmission lines, replacing and superseding the current processes that have been created in an ad hoc fashion through multiple Executive Orders;

  Eliminates the Presidential Permit requirement for construction or modification of oil and natural gas pipelines and electric transmission facilities that cross the national boundary of the U.S;

  Requires a “certificate of crossing” for construction of any segment of an oil pipeline or electric transmission line that crosses the border of the U.S. with Canada or Mexico. This certificate of crossing is subject to NEPA review and cannot be issued until final NEPA action; 

  Requires the agency to issue a “certificate of crossing” within 120 days upon completion of NEPA unless the agency finds construction of the cross-border segment is not in the “public interest” of the U.S; 

  Requires approval under section 3 of the Natural Gas Act for natural gas cross-border pipelines, consistent with current policy;

 Provides that the “certificate of crossing” will be issued by the Secretary of State for oil pipelines, the Department of Energy for electric transmission lines, and FERC will continue to approve cross-border natural gas pipelines;

 Specifies that existing projects do not need further approvals, including new or revised Presidential Permits, for modifications such as reversal of flow direction, volume expansion or adjustments to maintain flow or in cases of changes in ownership;

 Removes the requirement for Department of Energy approval to export or import natural gas by pipeline to or from Mexico or Canada;

 Has an effective date of July 1, 2015, and specifically addresses how currently pending applications shall be handled.

(Source: U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee


North American Energy Infrastructure Act

Official Title

To require approval for the construction, connection, operation, or maintenance of oil or natural gas pipelines or electric transmission facilities at the national boundary of the United States for the import or export of oil, natural gas, or electricity to or from Canada or Mexico, and for other purposes.

bill Progress

  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house Passed June 24th, 2014
    Roll Call Vote 238 Yea / 173 Nay
      house Committees
      National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands
      Committee on Energy and Commerce
      Committee on Natural Resources
      Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
      Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials
    IntroducedOctober 22nd, 2013

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    There should not even be an argument on whether to pass this bill or not when there are literally hundreds of peaceful people right now being tear gassed, shot with rubber bullets, being sprayed with freezing water, and other inhumane atrocities being done to them simply because they want clean water. The greed and corruption circling around this is absolutely disgusting.
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