Legislators and architects: build pipelines faster, and put bicycle paths on top

Nov 3, 2013

Credit SWA Group

As 485 miles of Keystone XL pipeline lies dry in Texas, lawmakers are proposing legislation that would expedite the process of approving cross-national pipelines like the Keystone XL.

A new bill co-authored by Texas U.S. Representative Gene Green would limit the Federal government to spending no more than 120 days deciding on oil and natural gas pipelines and electric transmission projects, the Texas Tribune reports.

The legislation would eliminate the role of the State Department in reviewing projects and limit time for environmental study and public comment.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission says the legislation would hinder the commission's ability to meet its responsibilities. Environmental advocates say the legislation would gut the federal permit process, eliminate deeper review, and disregard consideration of environmental harm.

U.S. House energy committee member say the legislation would streamline pipeline permitting processes.

The Texas portion of the Keystone XL pipeline is built but unused, as the northern potion of the pipeline is yet to be built, pending State Deparmtnet approval which has taken more than a year.

Bike the Pipeline

Meanwhile, a Houston landscape architecture firm puts forward an unorthodox proposal for the use of land right-of-way set aside for underground pipelines-- why not construct a bike path?

The idea would turn the land above the Keystone XL pipeline into a long bike path-- stretching 5,000 miles from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.

As StateImpact Texas observes, pipelines create an easement 50 feet in width across property under which pipelines are buried, and property owners can't do much with the land on top, such as constructing permanent structures.