Take Action! House to Vote On Hydropower Legislation

posted November 6, 2017
by Megan Hooker

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The House is scheduled to vote on hydropower legislation during the week of November 6th. H.R. 3043, or the “Hydropower Policy Modernization Act” is substantively the same as the Discussion Draft that the House Subcommittee on Energy reviewed earlier this year.

H.R. 3043 will amend the Federal Power Act as it relates to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) hydropower licensing process. This process currently strikes a balance between hydropower and all other values, ensuring that things like water quality, fish and wildlife, flows, and recreation are given equal consideration to hydropower when determining how a FERC licensed dam will operate in the future. H.R. 3043 would undermine this balance by giving FERC more authority to make decisions about natural resource issues. FERC is an independent agency that is tasked with regulating the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas and oil, and reviewing proposals to build liquefied natural gas terminals, natural gas pipelines and hydropower projects. State, federal and tribal agencies that have expertise and experience in fish, wildlife, flows and recreation are better suited to continue to make natural resource decisions.  

Since the 1990s, American Whitewater has restored flows to rivers across the country, working alongside federal and state agencies, through the FERC relicensing process. Our successes include the Cheoah (NC), West Fork Tuckasegee (NC), Tallulah (GA), Hoosic (NY), Deerfield (MA), North Fork Feather (CA), South Fork American (CA), and Sultan (WA). Our ability to protect and restore flows to rivers impacted by hydropower dams will be undermined if H.R. 3043 becomes law.

It’s important that we get this right. Hydropower licenses are issued for up to 50 years, and the dams that are coming up for relicensing now were first constructed before the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and virtually all other environmental laws were enacted. During relicensing proceedings, the public has the opportunity to ensure that dam owners make the necessary changes to bring their facilities up to modern standards and address opportunities to provide benefits to local communities, including whitewater recreation. If we don’t get the balance between outdoor recreation, environmental protection and power generation right in these licenses, we are all forced to live with that mistake for up to half a century.

TAKE ACTION!

As your Representative considers how they’ll vote on H.R. 3043 this week, it’s critical that they hear from you today about why protecting rivers is important. We’ve made it easy for you to do that here.

Thanks for taking action, and stay tuned to American Whitewater for updates.