This bill would direct the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to create a process for coordinating reviews between federal, state, and local agencies in which it would serve as the lead agency when siting natural gas pipelines that cross state lines. Assuming other agencies accept FERC’s invitation to serve as participants in the environmental review process, they would defer to the commission to the greatest extent allowed by law so that the review can meet deadlines set by this legislation.
If an agency notifies FERC that it doesn’t have jurisdiction related to the pipeline authorization, lacks expertise or information relevant to the review, or doesn’t intend to submit comments for review they wouldn’t be considered participants. Agencies that aren’t designated participants wouldn’t be able to request or conduct a NEPA environmental review in addition to the one conducted by FERC unless the agency demonstrates that it’s legally necessary and requires information that couldn’t have been obtained during FERC’s review. FERC wouldn’t consider any comments or information provided by a non-designated agency or include such comments in its review.
A deadline for a federal pipeline authorization would be set 90 days after FERC completes its NEPA review, and each participating agency would develop a plan for completing its consideration in that timeframe. If that deadline isn’t met at a given agency, it would be required to notify FERC and Congress of the failure and provide a plan to ensure the completion of the action to be taken.