The Review Process for Priority Energy Projects Should Be Expedited

EMD-80-6: Published: Oct 15, 1979. Publicly Released: Oct 17, 1979.

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The proposed crude oil pipeline from Long Beach, California, to Midland, Texas (PACTEX), considered to be in the national interest because it would distribute the West Coast surplus of Alaska North Slope crude oil, was abandoned by its sponsor after almost 5 years of work. Increased project costs and adverse effects from delays in obtaining permits and litigation were cited as reasons for abandoning the project. PACTEX was examined as a case study to identify the problems and issues associated with obtaining the necessary permits for a major energy transportation system. Various federal and state agencies were contacted and reports, studies, laws, regulations, proposed legislation, and procedures related to the permit process were reviewed.

The most serious problem encountered was in obtaining state and local air quality permits for the terminal in California. Although the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the states are responsible for implementing the Clean Air Act and its amendments, neither EPA nor California has established clear requirements to be met by companies desiring to install facilities that will contribute to air pollution. Such guidance is not only needed, but should be expected if all levels of government are to fulfill the leadership responsibilities essential for effective air pollution control.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Matter: The Congress should enact a program for expediting energy projects considered to be in the national interest and establish an Energy Mobilization Board to assure its effective administration. The authorizing legislation needs to be carefully drawn to embody those characteristics essential to the proper functioning of the Board, including independence, objectivity, and strong authority, as well as safeguards and balancing features to preserve the integrity of the permit process itself and to avoid abuses of power. In addition, the enabling legislation should specify an expiration date, thus requiring periodic congressional oversight. Because of EPA reluctance to apply the recommendations contained in the October 1978 report by GAO, the cognizant congressional committees should make sure the recommendations GAO made are completed expeditiously by the Administrator of EPA.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of EPA not only should act on the recommendations made in the 1978 GAO report, but should also establish guidelines for implementation of the offset policy which provide clear, specific guidance on measurement and quantity of project emissions required to be offset; types and quantity of offsets to be provided; and acceptability of a demonstration project, rather than proven technology, as an offset. Further, the Administrator should urge State or local governments wishing to use more stringent requirements to establish clear guidelines and include them in the State Implementation Plan before enforcing the more stringent requirements for a project.

    Agency Affected:


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