Editorial | May 8, 2015 | Charleston Daily Mail
Editorial: Pipelines need a faster approval process
During a seven-week period from early January through February of 1942, five German submarines patrolled waters offthe American East Coast and sank 73 ships carrying supplies and fuel for Allied forces.
These sinkings severely hurt the U.S. war effort, as valuable crude oil produced in Texas and Louisiana couldn’t get to refineries in the north, where it would be turned into fuel and shipped to Allied forces in Europe.
The solution: build two cross-country pipelines spanning 1,200 miles — one for oil and one for refined products — from the Gulf Coast to the East Coast.
The rapid deployment of the pipelines — the “Big Inch” was built in 350 days and “Little Inch” completed shortly thereafter — and the safer transportation of fuel that resulted helped America and the Allies win the war.
But building a pipeline quickly doesn’t happen anymore. Granted, the sense of urgency doesn’t exist like it did then, nor should it. Still, planning, siting, developing and constructing a pipeline takes many years, if not decades into today’s highly litigious and “what’s in it for me?” society.
That’s why legislation introduced by U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito to modernize and improve the timeframe for approval of new pipelines is a
The Oil and Gas Production and Distribution Reform Act, co-sponsored by senators Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and Bill Cassidy, R-La., would strengthen the role of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to better coordinate agencies involved in the pipeline permitting process.
“West Virginia’s Marcellus Region has the largest shale gas reserves in the United States. This rapid rise in production in the Marcellus Region has been great for our economy but has outpaced our pipeline’s capacity,” Sen. Capito said in a polite understatement.
The truth is the big gas boom that has increased employment and tax revenue in West Virginia has slowed considerably less due to slowing markets than a lack of pipeline infrastructure to carry the burgeoning supplies.
And the long lead time necessary to get pipeline approval is the key reason. Capito’s legislation would provide more certainty around the timeframe for approvals.
“The slow and uncertain regulatory approval process delays construction, which delays manufacturing projects and hurts families and businesses that rely on affordable energy,” Capito said in a news release.
West Virginia and the nation need more jobs and more reliable energy supplies. Passage of this bill would produce both.