States are facing multiple challenges around new pipeline infrastructure as a result of unconventional oil and gas development. In many instances, federal oversight of interstate pipelines has failed to keep up with state interest in new pipelines. However, some states lack an efficient centralized or streamlined siting and permitting process to accommodate new development. This paper examines the different approaches by various states and what oil and gas companies can do to minimize risk by balancing the competing public and private interests to obtain the necessary permits and approvals without delaying project construction. The paper includes discussion of both Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) regulated natural gas pipelines as well as crude oil and product lines not regulated by FERC. In addition, this paper provides a first-hand perspective on how public opposition can change the regulatory landscape during the course of a project using the Keystone XL Project as an example. After the Keystone XL Project ran into permitting issues, the Nebraska Legislature modified its law, directing the state to evaluate the environmental, economic, social and other impacts of the Nebraska segment of the project. Because the state did not have a specific NEPA process, Nebraska had to first establish a process to conduct the state’s evaluation and produce the functional equivalent of a NEPA document, resulting in project delays. This paper also describes how the evolving use of social media has provided a mechanism for rapid dissemination of information for both project opponents and proponents. There is a heightened national awareness that may now target certain projects based on impacts to select environmental resources such that just meeting the minimum regulatory requirements may not be enough moving forward. In today’s regulatory environment, strategic planning and communications are critical to raise awareness in advance of the potential opposition.

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