Senate Democrats target streamlined pipeline permits

By Miranda Willson | 03/12/2024 06:43 AM EDT

The Army Corps of Engineers has spent years reviewing Nationwide Permit 12 for oil and gas infrastructure.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) wants the Army Corps of Engineers to scrap a process for streamlining certain oil and gas pipeline permits. Francis Chung/POLITICO

Senate Democrats are urging the Army Corps of Engineers to eliminate a permitting system that has been used to fast-track oil and gas pipelines, two years after the agency began reassessing the program.

In a letter sent last week, lawmakers asked the Army Corps for a status update on its formal review of Nationwide Permit 12. The program allows pipeline companies to cross waterways or dredge and fill wetlands if their projects are deemed to have minimal environmental impacts.

Upon receiving a Nationwide 12 permit, companies can bypass the more substantial environmental review that is normally required under the Clean Water Act. But the program’s application has been far too broad, according to the letter.


It was signed by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who caucuses with Democrats.