U.S. Senators John Barrasso and Mike Enzi have introduced a bill to reduce permitting timelines for natural gas pipelines on federal and Indian lands.
Barrasso says the Natural Gas Gathering Enhancement Act will help reduce flaring of natural gas at well sites not currently connected to pipelines. He notes that North Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming flare a lot of natural gas because well sites often are not connected to pipelines
Kathleen Sgamma, with industry advocacy group Western Energy Alliance, says natural gas is a valuable byproduct at certain oil wells but doesn’t have the same export flexibility as liquid hydrocarbons. She says the bill would help capture the gas resource.
“You cannot just truck away natural gas like you can oil. You have to capture that in a gathering system which then feeds into a pipeline.”
Trisha Curtis, with the Energy Policy Research Foundation in Washington, D.C. says the Rocky Mountain region in particular has seen permitting delays in the past several years.
“It’s pretty well understood that in the past few we’ve seen an increase in the time it takes to permit. The implication for companies are that they don’t know when to buy the pipes, they don’t know when to basically purchase everything and so there’s a lot of cost involved with a delay in time for getting to know when exactly they can put the permit in to when they can start construction.”
The bill would exclude certain pipelines from the National Environmental Policy Act, which requires various environmental reviews.