WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) today introduced a bill to allow critical infrastructure project proponents to continue relying on the nationwide permit (NWP) program in light of recent court decisions. Cosponsors on his bill include Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), John Barrasso (R-WY), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), James Lankford (R-OK), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), John Hoeven (R-ND), Steve Daines (R-MT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).
“In the middle of a pandemic, Texas energy producers face enough uncertainty right now,” said Sen. Cornyn. “We should be encouraging investment in critical infrastructure so that once we return to normal, domestic energy producers will be able to meet the increased demand.”
“The policy of today’s environmental Left is to delay, stop, or, in some cases, physically destroy, the construction of any new pipelines in this county,” Sen. Cruz said. “This is bad for our energy security and bad for the blue-collar jobs that these projects support. That’s why I’m proud to introduce this legislation with Senator Cornyn that will provide greater clarity in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ permitting process for new pipelines and other utility lines, while still ensuring our Nation’s waterways are protected.”
Specifically, this bill would clarify that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) current NWP process and procedures satisfy the Endangered Species Act (ESA) Section 7 consultation requirements. It amends Section 404(e) of the Clean Water Act (CWA) to authorize use of the NWP’s through December 2026. The USACE and project proponents would be required to comply with all other existing requirements, and the USACE would be required to document a determination that each authorized activity would have no impact on listed species or designated habitat during this period. The bill does not add any new or alter existing NWP requirements. The bill would apply to all NWPs and industries.