Proposals Point to Need for Renewed, Streamlined NWP 12 Program
Posted August 6, 2020
There are two new developments with the federal Nationwide Permit 12 program (NWP 12), which is critically important for key infrastructure projects of all kinds. Both point to the need for a clear, efficient, common-sense permitting program that balances environmental protection with streamlining projects that have limited environmental impacts.
Achieving this is occurring on two tracks. U.S. senators have introduced legislation that would cut red tape and in the short term help reestablish regulatory order and allow infrastructure projects to proceed if they’re following certain species protection rules already in the NWP 12. Meanwhile the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has a proposal that includes renewing more than 50 Nationwide Permits for the next five years. This is important because the permits would expire in March 2022 otherwise.
Both come after a federal judge in Montana ruled that the NWP 12 program couldn’t be used for constructing new natural gas and oil pipelines – singling out those projects from other utility projects that remained NWP 12 eligible. The U.S. Supreme Court later reinstated NWP 12 for pipeline projects while the lower-court ruling is appealed.
Even so, the situation remains fluid, which isn’t good for multi-million-dollar investment projects like pipelines. Hence the bill in the Senate and the Corps’ proposal. Robin Rorick, API vice president of midstream and industry operations, commented on the Senate legislation:
“Even with the Supreme Court’s recent order, continued uncertainty in the courts requires legislation that ensures all industries – including renewable energy, electricity, and telecommunications – can continue to rely on Nationwide Permits for infrastructure projects for years to come. That’s exactly what this bill will provide for projects across the country that create jobs, protect the environment and ensure access to affordable, reliable and cleaner energy for all Americans.”
Renewing more than 50 Nationwide Permits over the next five years is key to infrastructure construction as well as support for the economy and job creation. API is reviewing details of the Corps’ proposal, but it generally looks like a step in the right direction. Frank Macchiarola, API senior vice president of policy, economics and regulatory affairs:
“Renewing NWPs is a common-sense step in the ongoing reform of our country’s outdated permitting process. The NWP system ensures that projects meet the Corps’ high threshold for environmental and safety standards, while helping projects to stay on schedule and preventing costly delays.”
The NWP 12 program has been an important part of the process to develop infrastructure of all kinds – including renewable energy projects and especially natural gas and oil pipelines. Program upheaval stemming from recent court rulings is potentially disruptive to construction workers and an impediment to economic growth and our nation’s ability to fully harness American natural gas and oil.
Our country needs infrastructure, and infrastructure needs an NWP 12 program that’s streamlined and workable and which provides the needed certainty to move these projects from the drawing board to reality.
About The Author
Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Previously, Mark was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor at an assortment of newspapers. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela have two grown children and five grandchildren.
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