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Understanding the Federal pipeline permit system

Updated: Jul 11, 2020

Alaska Pipeline

CNN’s Matt Egan just posted on the U.S. shale oil industry, Why American oil can keep booming despite crazy swings. The article shows how U.S. oil companies are cleaning up their balance sheets and adopting a more disciplined approach to launching major projects to avoid financial troubles.

As Egan notes, Federal permit delays on energy projects can cause long-term problems with a company’s balance sheet.

My colleagues Col. (ret) Marc Hildenbrand and John Studt recently wrote about how to avoid federal energy permitting delays, especially when the permitting involves the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Their article was just published in Pipeline & Gas Journal.

Marc was executive officer to the Corps of Engineers’ Chief of Engineers and commanded the Army’s 937th Engineering Brigade during the Gulf War. John spent 30 years in the Corps of Engineers, including 10 years as chief of Corps Regulatory Program.

An excerpt:

"The [Army] Corps [of Engineers] has its own well-developed set of regulations and procedures on project evaluation and securing a permit. Most major energy infrastructure projects, such as interstate gas transmission pipelines or a major processing or export facility on navigable waters, will involve crossing or having an effect on U.S. waters, including traditional navigable waters, on either a temporary or permanent basis.

Let’s consider a pipeline project that will traverse forested areas, and open former and active agricultural areas. Any such pipeline will cross many small streams, wetlands and perhaps a navigable river that has barge or other commercial boat traffic. The Corps permit for such a project would normally involve expedited review under Corps- issued general permits to cross the small streams and small wetland areas.

The Corps’ evaluation will normally be focused on each stream or wetland crossing. However, even for general permits, such as the Corps Nationwide Permit No. 12 for pipeline and other linear utility lines, the Corps will work to have the applicant avoid wetlands and streams to the maximum extent practicable."

For the rest of the article, click here.

Rob Vining Senior Advisor

A member of the Dawson team since 2012, Rob formerly served as the U.S. Army’s Chief of Civil Works Programs, Management Division.


The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Dawson & Associates.


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