Cruz, Bridenstone Introduce Energy Reform Bill

After the U.S. Senate in early March failed to override President Obama’s veto of legislation that would have approved TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL Pipeline project, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rep. Jim Bridenstone (R-Okla.) reintroduce a measure to approve the project as part of a sweeping energy bill, called the American Energy Renaissance Act – S. 791/H.R. 1487.

The bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate on March 18 and referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

Title II of the bill, called Improving North American Energy Infrastructure, says that Congress finds that building the Keystone XL pipeline will provide jobs and economic growth in the United States and the Keystone XL pipeline should be approved immediately, according to the bill text. The bill eliminates the requirement for a presidential permit for the project and calls for the final environmental impact statement issued in January 2014 to satisfy all environmental review requirements.

In addition, the bill expedites the permitting process for cross-border energy facilities. Title II says that Congress finds that the U.S. should establish a more uniform, transparent and modern process for the development of oil and natural gas pipelines for the import and export of oil and natural gas to and from Canada and Mexico. The bill eliminates the Presidential Permit requirement for pipelines that cross the U.S. borders to Mexico or Canada and authorizes the Secretary of Energy to issue a certificate of crossing for those projects following project review under the National Environmental Policy Act. In addition, the Secretary of Energy would have to issue the certificate of crossing no later than 120 days after completion of NEPA review, unless the Secretary of Energy determines that the project is not in the interest of national security.

The bill also provides for the expedited approval of natural gas exports and an end to the ban on crude oil exports.

Title I of the bill, called Expanding American Energy Exports, says that Congress finds that opening up energy exports will contribute to economic development, private sector job growth, and continued growth in American energy production. The bill repeals presidential authority to restrict oil exports and repeals limitations on exports of oil, according to the bill text.

In addition, the bill allows states to regulate energy development.

Title IV of the bill, called Utilizing America’s Onshore Resources, says that Congress finds that current policy has failed to take full advantage of the natural resources on federal lands, and that states should have the option to lead energy development on all available federal lands within their borders, according to the bill text.

The bill authorizes states to control energy development and production on available federal lands, excluding Tribal lands, national parks, national wildlife preserves and nationally designated wilderness areas. States would have the option to establish a program of leasing and permitting processes and regulatory requirements for the development of “all forms of energy resources” on authorized federal lands. In the event a state chooses not to self regulate, the bill directs the federal government to streamline federal permitting processes.

Title V of the bill specifically establishes state authority over regulation of hydraulic fracturing. The bill says that Congress finds that, given variation in geology, land use and population, the states are best placed to regulate the process of

hydraulic fracturing occurring on any land within the boundaries of the individual state. According to the bill text, hydraulic fracturing activity on federal land will be subject to the law of the state in which the land is located.

The bill further restricts the regulatory authority of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Title VII of the bill, called Stopping EPA Overreach, says that Congress finds that the EPA has exceeded its statutory authority by promulgating regulations that were not contemplated by Congress, and that no federal agency has the authority to regulate greenhouse gases under current law, according to the bill text.

Under Title VII, the EPA would be banned from regulating greenhouse gases without further congressional action.

The bill specifically alters the text of the Clean Air Act to read, “The term ‘air pollutant’ does not include carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, or sulfur hexafluoride.”

In addition, the bill would nullify the EPA’s proposed Standards of Performance for Greenhouse Gas Emissions from New Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units; Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units; or any other proposed rules presented under the authority of the Clean Air Act.

Title VII also requires the EPA to provide an analysis of a potential regulation, rule or policy on employment and bans passage of any regulation, rule or policy that has a negative impact on employment, unless approved by Congress and signed by the president.

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