In a key step for energy infrastructure development, the U.S. Supreme Court today agreed to reinstate Nationwide Permit 12 (NWP 12), a streamlined permitting program for new pipeline projects across the country. The permit is used by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to authorize dredge-and-fill activities for infrastructure around water crossings. More than 70 pipeline projects were held up in the NWP 12 suspension.
Today’s ruling comes after the Corps requested SCOTUS lift a court-ordered freeze on NWP 12 after the permit was suspended nationwide by U.S. District Court for the District of Montana Judge Brian Morris in a ruling earlier this year tied to the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline. While today’s ruling allows the Corps to utilize NWP 12 for new infrastructure projects, the ruling excludes the Keystone XL pipeline while an appeal plays out in the Ninth Circuit.
Below is a statement that can be attributed to me, Craig Stevens, spokesman for the GAIN Coalition:
“GAIN commends the Supreme Court for today’s ruling to reinstate Nationwide Permit 12. We’ve seen judicial activism attempt to rewrite the intent of federal regulations and usurp the legal authority of the Army Corps of Engineers, so we are pleased to see some common sense coming from the Supreme Court today. As lower courts run amuck, the Supreme Court’s leadership is critical to ensuring regulatory certainty to companies and financiers who invest billions of dollars in large scale infrastructure projects.
“Energy infrastructure projects already undergo a rigorous and notably lengthy permitting and review process with both state and federal regulators before ultimately receiving the necessary approvals. Nationwide permits like NWP 12 are critical to cutting red tape and allowing infrastructure development to efficiently move forward while also maintaining the integrity of the tried-and-true permitting process conducted by the career professionals at the Army Corps. While the Keystone XL Pipeline was not included in today’s decision, we are confident the court will ultimately affirm the permit’s status upon further consideration and allow project construction to proceed.”