Providing for Consideration of H.R. 1900, Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act

Floor Speech

Date: Nov. 20, 2013
Location: Washington, DC
Issues: Oil and Gas


Mr. BURGESS. Mr. Speaker, House Resolution 420 provides for the consideration of a critical piece of legislation that was passed by the Committee on Energy and Commerce designed to address the costly and unnecessary delays which many businesses experience when trying to get a final determination to be made by the Federal Government in relation to a pending pipeline.

A member of the committee, Mr. Pompeo from Kansas, the bill's author, has drafted a meaningful piece of legislation, taking into account the various competing interests involved in the permitting process and has found a fair and just balance for ensuring that our critical infrastructure moves forward.

The rule before us today provides for 1 hour of general debate on the bill. Five of the six amendments submitted to the Rules Committee were made in order, all Democratic amendments. The sixth was neither germane nor did it meet the CutGo rules of the House. Finally, the minority is afforded the customary motion to recommit on the bill, allowing for yet another opportunity to amend the legislation.

H.R. 1900, the Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act, is the product of hours of work with stakeholders that Mr. Pompeo has put in to improve the legislation. The bill streamlines our Nation's pipeline permitting processes in an effort to allow for greater capacity and promote safe infrastructure. Specifically, the bill directs the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to approve or deny a permit application for a new natural gas pipeline within 12 months.

Natural gas is one of the clearest examples of how this country can move itself toward a more sustainable energy-independent future while at the same time allowing and encouraging our economy to grow. My own district in north Texas sits 8,000 feet above the Barnett shale, a natural gas formation that industry has been using to produce gas for decades. Indeed, due to the technological advances and strong market, the area that I represent felt few of the effects of the recession until at least a year after the recession was initiated due to the booming economy that resulted from the development of the resources under our feet.

Obviously, with increased production and demand, as we have seen with the natural gas industry, comes an increased need for infrastructure. I welcome any legislation which would streamline the permitting process and allow companies to spend less time with Washington bureaucrats and more time creating jobs, producing products that consumers want and are eager to buy.

Indeed, with the increase in supply that hydraulic fracturing has created with natural gas, the pace at which the Federal Government has approved increased infrastructure, namely pipelines, to transport this commodity has not kept up.

Pipelines provide the safest, fastest, and cleanest mode of transportation for natural gas, as we in the Energy and Commerce Committee have heard from witnesses again and again. Making certain that our country has the number of pipelines necessary for transporting the gas we need to heat our homes and run our cars is a critical step toward energy independence.

Moreover, Members of this body who annually support more robust funding for programs like the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, commonly referred to as LIHEAP, should be joining with Republicans today in supporting an increase in pipeline infrastructure in our country, as the natural gas being produced in Western States could more efficiently be transported to the Northeastern States, reducing home heating costs and lessening the need for government assistance for many families.

Mr. Speaker, this bill is an important bill. It will create opportunity to put thousands of workers to work, creating the infrastructure that this country has needed for some time due to the energy boom in natural gas. I encourage my colleagues to vote ``yes'' on the rule and ``yes'' on the underlying bill.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. BURGESS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time.

You know, Mr. Speaker, it was a little over a year ago that the American people went to the polls, and in their wisdom, they elected a divided government. They knew what divided government looked like. They had seen it for the 2 years prior.

The President came to town in 2009 and promised a lot of sweeping changes, and he delivered on those sweeping changes during the first 2 years of his administration. He had a health care bill passed. The health care bill passed without a single Republican vote. You talk about a partisan vote--the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was a partisan vote. Unfortunately, we are seeing now, as we have convulsed the country with these changes that are occurring within the insurance system, we are seeing the changes that are going to occur to our providers, our doctors, our hospitals, our nurses in the months ahead. This is a serious situation, and it requires serious action to be taken.

I won't apologize for any action that has been taken by the majority in this House to try to rein in the excesses of the administration and the previous Democrat-controlled Congress when they took over one-sixth of the Nation's economy in a partisan fashion without a single Republican vote.

The sequester was passed in August of 2011. It was passed at the request of the President. The gentleman has talked about shutdowns and defaults of the government. Do you remember that the sequester was a compromise
proposed by the President and the Office of Management and Budget at the White House in order to prevent defaulting on our debt? It was a very difficult vote for many of us in this House.

What has the sequester delivered? The sequester delivered what no one had been able to deliver in the 4 years previously, and that is a Federal budget deficit that is below $1 trillion. It doesn't sound like a big ask that the American people had: We want you to stop spending so much money. The sequester delivered on that promise.

I find it strange now for the gentleman from Massachusetts to impugn the integrity of people who voted in favor of that sequester when the President and the minority leader of the House of Representatives now want to take credit for the fact that the deficit was cut in half over the last 4 years.

The only reason it was cut in half was because they raised it to unsustainable levels, and now the sequester has reined that back in. It is quite likely that the deficit at the end of fiscal year 2014 will in fact be lower if we don't do something to damage the trajectory that we are on.

I don't think the immigration bill passed by the Senate is here at the House. I think it has got an origination problem, and it is unconstitutional. If there is a bill at the desk, I will be happy to look at it, but I don't think that has occurred. The gentleman knows that.

This bill that we are considering today would lower the price of natural gas delivered to consumers in the State of Massachusetts. I have a table prepared by the Committee on Energy and Commerce. The national average for natural gas is $9.19 per thousand cubic feet. In Massachusetts, it is $13.18.

So this is a bill today that could deliver product to the gentleman's constituents in Massachusetts at a much more reasonable price. This sounds to me like a bill that will help the economy. This sounds to me like a bill that may provide jobs for the American people.

The minority whip talked about the doc fix. Our committee, the Committee on Energy and Commerce, did pass, in a bipartisan fashion, the repeal of the sustainable growth rate formula. I think it is a good bill. I think it is a bill where we had participation from both sides of the dais and not a single dissenting vote when we voted on the bill in committee right before the August recess.

There is another body here in the Capitol Building. They are considering their own version of a similar bill in the appropriate Finance Committee over in the other body. I don't want to prejudge or preclude what they will or won't do. I am anxious for them to do something that would give us a negotiating point where we could consider moving forward with a final repeal of this problem, but in fact, the legislative branch consists of two bodies--this body and the body on the other side. Until the Finance Committee acts, there is little more that the Energy and Commerce Committee can do to push that bill forward.

Mr. Speaker, today's rule provides for consideration of a critical bill to ensure our energy infrastructure needs are being met. Mr. Pompeo has done a good job. I applaud him and our committee for the thoughtful legislation.

I urge my colleagues to support both the rule and the underlying bill.

[From the Energy & Commerce Committee, U.S. House of Representatives, Nov. 19, 2013]

H.R. 1900 Needed To Deliver Affordable American Energy to Consumers


This week the House of Representatives will consider H.R. 1900, the Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act. Authored by Energy and Commerce Committee member Rep. MIKE POMPEO (R-KS), the bill will help ensure consumers have access to affordable and reliable energy by modernizing the permitting process for interstate natural gas pipelines. It is a critical part of the committee's efforts to build the architecture of abundance, and will allow American families and businesses across the country to enjoy the benefits of the U.S. shale gas boom.

America is experiencing a surge in natural gas production but right now we simply don't have the infrastructure to accommodate this increased supply and deliver this low-cost energy to consumers and manufacturers. And as gas gains a greater market share of the nation's electricity portfolio, many regions of the country do not have the pipeline capacity to support this conversion, leaving consumers vulnerable to price spikes. We saw this play out last January as areas of the country, particularly along the East Coast, faced gas shortages and high prices. According to a recent blog post by the Energy Information Administration, ``The increased use of natural gas for electricity generation has raised concerns about fuel diversity, as the Northeast is also reliant on natural gas for part of its heating needs and has limited pipeline capacity to bring gas to market. The winter of 2012-13 saw spikes in wholesale electricity prices in New England and New York as demand for natural gas from both electric generators and natural gas distribution companies taxed the capacity to bring natural gas into these markets.''

The chart below highlights those states that suffered the most last winter from high natural gas prices and the lack of adequate infrastructure, with natural gas prices reaching up to 68% higher than the national average:
Residential Natural Gas Prices for January 2013: National Average: $9.19*



















New Hampshire


New Jersey


New York


North Carolina




Rhode Island


South Carolina








* Dollars per Thousand Cubic Feet

Source: U.S. EIA