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House overwhelmingly passes bill to streamline small hydro projects


From the April 12, 2013 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published April 12, 2013

By Robert Varela
Editorial Director
By a vote of 416-7, the House of Representatives passed a bill aimed at streamlining small hydro power projects on canals, aqueducts and other Bureau of Reclamation conduits. The Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act (H.R. 678), sponsored by Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., adds "power" as an authorized activity on all water conduits owned by the Bureau of Reclamation. The measure also directs the bureau to apply its categorical exclusion process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to the small (5 MW or less) conduit hydro projects, excluding siting of associated transmission facilities on federal lands. APPA supports the legislation.

In response to Democratic opposition to NEPA exemptions, Tipton said the bill applies only to "man-made ditches" that have already undergone environmental reviews.

The legislation now goes to the Senate, where Sen. John Barasso, R-Wyo., has introduced a companion bill, S. 306. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee announced a hearing on April 23 to consider S. 306; S. 545, the Hydropower Improvement Act of 2013, authored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; and H.R. 267, the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013, sponsored by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash.

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Jeanne Wickline LaBella
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