Vote Explanation for H.R. 2883 — Promoting Cross-Border Energy Infrastructure Act

I voted against H.R. 2883, the Promoting Cross-Border Energy Infrastructure Act, which would limit important stakeholder input and environmental impact analyses for energy infrastructure projects by replacing the “presidential permit” with a new “certificate of crossing” issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Under the current process, the State Department has sole responsibility for the presidential permits, and grants them following a thorough, multi-agency environmental review and determination that the project is in the national interest. This process was used by the Obama Administration in its decision to reject construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

As written, H.R. 2838 effectively exempts cross-border projects from thorough environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by dramatically narrowing the focus of that review. Under the bill, the permit requirement and NEPA review apply only to the “border-crossing facility,” defined as the small segment of the project that physically crosses the border. Lastly, under the bill’s new permitting process, controversial modifications to existing cross-border pipelines or transmission lines would not require any federal approval and would not be subject to any environmental review.

We know that transboundary pipelines and transmission lines are multi-billion dollar infrastructure investments that stretch hundreds of miles, last for decades, and pose environmental risks well beyond the border crossing. This legislation sets a dangerous precedent that limits the extensive review and stakeholder input that large infrastructure projects deserve.