By: Thomas O'Keefe
The House is scheduled to vote the week of November 30th on the hydropower legislation we’ve been tracking since late spring. It still spells really, really bad news for rivers and paddler’s voices are very important right now!
H.R. 8 (the "North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act”) is a comprehensive energy bill with hydropower provisions that, if passed, will make restoring rivers impacted by hydropower dams significantly more challenging (these provisions are in Title I Subtitle C of the current House version of the bill). If you’ve enjoyed restored flows on rivers like the Cheoah (NC), Tallulah (GA), Deerfield (MA),Yuba/Bear (CA), Chelan (WA), Bear River (ID), this will affect you directly.
The hydropower provisions in H.R. 8 would give hydropower developers special treatment by allowing them to ignore the Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, and other laws that protect fish, wildlife, recreation and public lands. It would strip states and Native American tribes of their existing authority to hold dam owners accountable for pollution and damage to local rivers and communities, as well as federal agencies to protect fish and other aquatic species.
The hydropower industry is behind these provisions, claiming that their efforts are about improving regulatory efficiency and promoting “clean, green” energy. Do not be fooled. These large and powerful energy companies are seeking special treatment in order to squeeze our rivers dry for their own interests.
Earlier this summer, we called on you to speak up for rivers when a similar bill was in the Senate. Paddlers and other river enthusiasts responded loudly with emails and calls to political leaders, and thanks to your efforts, we made a difference! We need to make a strong showing again as the bill moves through the House.
Make your voices heard today! We've made it easy for you to reach out to your Congressional Representatives through our friends at Outdoor Alliance. Share your personal experience enjoying rivers where hydropower projects provide recreational flows. Ask your Representative to oppose the hydropower provisions in H.R. 8–the "North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act”–or any bill that would undermine the public's ability to balance hydropower interests with non-power values like recreation, fish and wildlife.
American Whitewater will continue to advocate for rivers and an appropriate balance between hydropower generation and other river values, including whitewater recreation. Thanks for taking action today. We’ll need your ongoing help throughout the process. Keep an eye on our website and social media channels to stay informed about when to take action.