This article was originally published in The Hill on August 24, 2022. Read the full piece here.
Ensuring energy abundance in the coming decades will require an extensive expansion of energy infrastructure, including at least doubling American electric transmission capacity and creating pipeline systems for hydrogen and CO2. Yet transmission infrastructure projects are stuck in a state and local regulatory rut that will block these ambitious (and necessary) goals. In July, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) announced they would introduce permitting reform legislation — with transmission as a priority. Luckily, model legislation for permitting transmission already exists in the form of the proposed 2021 Streamlining Interstate Transmission of Electricity (SITE) Act. Congress should include the SITE Act in a permitting reform bill and use it as a framework for regulatory structures for CO2 and hydrogen pipelines.
In 1938, Congress passed the Natural Gas Act (NGA) because it recognized that attempts to build interstate pipelines were undercut by states unwilling or unable to permit them within their borders. Some projects needed a different permitting and siting regime that could take a broader view of regional and national needs. The NGA established a federal siting authority for interstate natural gas pipelines at the Federal Power Administration, which later became the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Under this authority, FERC permitted hundreds of thousands of miles of pipelines, including more than 13,000 new miles in the last 25 years.
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