White House threatens to veto House energy bill

The White House threatened to veto a House energy bill that would help speed up natural gas pipeline development by streamlining environmental reviews, while tinkering with the large electricity markets the government oversees and energy efficiency programs that the administration says would not be helpful.

"The administration strongly opposes H.R. 8," the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act, "because it would undermine already successful initiatives designed to modernize the nation's energy infrastructure and increase our energy efficiency," the White House said Monday night. The bill is expected to be taken up on the House floor as soon as Tuesday.

The bill's provisions regarding the "operational characteristics" of the electricity markets overseen by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, representing the most densely populated areas of the nation, are unnecessary, the White House said. The commission and the regional grid operators it oversees "are already well positioned, especially as technologies change over time, to ensure that capacity market structures adequately provide for the procurement of sufficient [energy supplies] to efficiently and reliably fulfill the resource-adequacy function that these markets are intended to perform."

The bill's measures to expedite the commission's review of natural gas pipeline applications are also "unnecessary." The White House said the provisions would broaden "FERC's authority to impose deadlines on other federal agencies reviewing the environmental implications of natural gas pipeline applications." The bill also would "unnecessarily curtail" the Department of Energy's "ability to fully consider whether natural gas export projects are consistent with the public interest," the White House said.

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