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House panel approves two energy bills

From the July 12, 2013 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published July 12, 2013

By Jeannine Anderson

The House Energy and Power Subcommittee approved two energy bills this week: one that could prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from finalizing certain energy-related rules if they were found to hurt the economy; and another that  could streamline the process for natural gas pipelines.

H.R. 1582, the Energy Consumers Relief Act, would prohibit the EPA "from finalizing certain energy-related rules if the secretary of energy determines the rule would cause significant adverse effects on the economy."  The measure, by Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., was approved by a party line vote of 17-10.  

The bill would require the EPA, prior to finalizing any energy-related rule costing over $1 billion, to submit a report to Congress that details certain cost, energy price and job effects. The secretary of energy also would have to make additional energy and economic determinations regarding the rule. Should the energy secretary, in consultation with other relevant agencies — such as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, secretary of commerce, and Small Business Administration — determine that the rule would cause significant adverse effects to the economy, the EPA would be prohibited from finalizing the rule.

The second bill, H.R. 1900, the Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act, would give FERC a 12-month deadline to make a decision on a pipeline permit application and would give other agencies 90 days to weigh in on the application once FERC completes its environmental review. If agencies should fail to make a decision within the 90-day deadline, the project would be deemed approved, although agencies could request a 30-day extension.  The subcommittee approved the bill on a vote of 17-9, with Democrat Jim Matheson of Utah, together with all GOP members of the panel, supporting it. APPA backs the bill. 

The full Energy and Commerce Committee is expected to take up both bills soon and the House may vote on them before lawmakers leave for their August recess. The bills have good odds of passing the House, but are not expected to get through the Senate. 


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