In April 2021, New Jersey Representatives Bonnie Watson Colemen and Tom Malinowski introduced the Safe Accountable Federal Energy Review for (SAFER) Pipelines Act of 2021. This bill would further complicate the environmental review process for critical pipeline projects, which will cause even more permitting delays and jeopardize good-paying jobs for industry craftsmen. The representatives introduced the bill after expressing disappointment over President Biden’s support of the PennEast Pipeline Project.
We can’t let politics jeopardize pipeliner jobs! Sign our petition below that we will submit to decision makers with a unified message: Say NO to the SAFER Pipelines Act of 2021!
I stand with members of Pipeliners Local 798 in opposition to the Safe Accountable Federal Energy Review for (SAFER) Pipelines Act of 2021. This bill adds seemingly duplicative steps to the already intensive environmental and safety review process, and it further complicates permitting timelines for critical pipeline projects.
In a statement promoting the bill, Representative Coleman argued the “current process for pipeline approval lacks the necessary oversight to protect our natural environment.” This is simply not true. The current approval process requires extensive review, including consulting with environmental experts to identify security, safety and environmental issues through scoping, and preparing documents such as Environmental Assessments or Environmental Impact Statements. The result of these collaborations often results in significant rerouting of pipeline paths, with the goal of developing the most environmentally responsible route.
The PennEast Pipeline Project, for example, used input from open houses, FERC scoping meetings, public forums and meetings with stakeholders to file a reroute of its original route in 2019.
Another argument for the bill, as Representative Malinowski claimed, is that it will ensure that environmental and safety concerns “are properly heard and considered before new pipelines are approved.” However, there are multiple opportunities for public input within the current process, including after FERC issues the Notice of Application, the draft EIS and the EA. This is not to mention the public comment periods allotted in the decision-making process for state permits.
PennEast, in particular, spent nearly a full year in the FERC pre-filing phase hosting more than 250 meetings, including landowner-specific informational sessions, to gather input. PennEast has also remained engaged with landowners and other stakeholders throughout the permitting process, responding to more than 1,500 inquiries.
The review requirements in the SAFER Pipeline Act of 2021 are simply unnecessary for the following key reasons:
- Pipeline projects under the current approval process undergo extensive environmental review that requires consultation with environmental experts to identify security, safety and environmental issues through scoping, and preparing documents such as Environmental Assessments or Environmental Impact Statements;
- The current process allots for multiple opportunities for public input, including open houses, public forums, town halls and digital outreach;
- The current pipeline approval process is rigorous and exhaustive. As a result, several projects in recent years, such as PennEast, have been caught in regulatory limbo, and others have even been killed all together, denying our communities good jobs, energy access and economic growth.
Local 798 supports legislation that respects the integrity of the underlying regulations that protect the environment and impacted communities. However, after reviewing the SAFER Pipeline Act of 2021, it is clear that this bill would only further complicate permitting timelines for critical pipeline projects, jeopardizing jobs for industry craftsmen and denying communities much-needed economic activity. This is why I urge our nation’s decision makers to vote No on this bill.
Supporter of the American Energy Industry