Committee Approves Bipartisan Legislation to Reform Approval of Cross-Border Energy Projects

May 8, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC – The House Energy and Commerce Committee today approved H.R. 3301, the North American Energy Infrastructure Act, by a bipartisan vote of 31 to 19. Authored by full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Rep. Gene Green (D-TX), the legislation would modernize and reform the approval process for energy infrastructure projects that cross the borders of the United States with Canada or Mexico. The legislation replaces the current Presidential Permit process created by a series of executive orders, and will help facilitate the construction of new job-creating energy infrastructure projects needed to transport North America’s growing energy supplies.

Upton commented, “This approach is a sincere effort to focus on a targeted solution to the lessons learned from the Keystone pipeline. No one can rightfully argue that the current Presidential Permit process is not broken. And for the over 100 operating or proposed oil, natural gas, and electric transmission facilities that CRS has identified crossing the U.S. border with Canada or Mexico, we can do better and this bill will make us do better.”

“H.R. 3301 recognizes the energy revolution taking place on the North American continent and meets the new demands for trade between Canada, Mexico, and the United States in an evolving, 21st Century economy,” said Green. “The United States is in a great position to lead a unified energy sector with its neighbors and allies that would benefit all three nations. The U.S. is already producing a surplus of oil and gas, Canada continues to develop huge amounts of domestic resources in addition to serving as our largest supplier of crude oil, meanwhile, Mexico, following recent reforms, is on the verge of receiving massive amounts of funding for future energy investments. Pipelines and electric transmission facilities would secure our energy needs, increase economic efficiencies that were created through NAFTA agreements, and build a new energy powerhouse in the Western Hemisphere.”

The committee adopted a bipartisan amendment authored by Upton and Green to address some of the concerns raised at the legislative hearing and subcommittee markup. Upton added,  “This issue is just too important to let politics continue to dictate. We have agreed to the requests from many on this committee in the interest of trying to solve this problem and continue working to construct the Architecture of Abundance necessary to fulfill our tremendous energy potential.”

As amended, H.R. 3301:

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 of 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.