The White House budget proposal released Monday authorizes the Interior secretary to sign off on proposed oil and gas pipelines traversing National Park Service (NPS) land.
The proposal would take the power to approve oil and gas lines on NPS land out of Congress, placing it under Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. The change would conform the pipeline approval process to what is already in place for electric, water and communications infrastructure.
“Authorizing the Secretary of the Interior to approve rights-of-way for pipelines and facilities necessary for the production of energy across NPS-administered land in a manner identical to that for other facilities would reduce the delays and uncertainties caused by requiring congressional approval,” the proposal states.
GOP Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah addressed the reforms to the pipeline permitting process in particular.
“The provisions within President Trump’s infrastructure proposal streamlining federal permitting are what will enable success on the ground and maximum return on investment for communities across the country,” Bishop, who chairs the House Committee on Natural Resources, said in a statement.
The budget proposal allocates $11.7 billion for the Department of the Interior and its agencies for fiscal year 2019. The department has a $16 billion backlog of deferred maintenance. The majority of the backlog, $11.6 billion, comes from national parks.
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