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Witnesses Stress Importance of Hydropower Development for Job Creation & Economic Growth

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 23, 2013 - Today, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power held a legislative hearing on H.R.  1963, The Bureau of Reclamation Conduit Hydropower Development Equity and Jobs Act.  Sponsored by Rep. Steve Daines (MT-At Large), this bill would create new American jobs and expand production of clean, renewable hydropower by removing outdated federal statutory barriers and streamlining administrative and regulatory processes. 

This legislation authorizes hydropower development at existing, man-made water canals and pipes at 12 Bureau of Reclamation projects. (Click here to view a map of these projects) This would help generate clean hydropower at no cost to taxpayers and increase revenue to the U.S. Treasury from lease payments that a hydropower developer would pay to the Bureau of Reclamation.  This legislation is similar to H.R. 678, sponsored by Rep. Scott Tipton (CO-03), that passed the House this year with overwhelming bipartisan support. 

“H.R. 1963, sponsored by Congressman Daines of Montana, facilitates non-federal hydropower development on federal conduits through administrative and regulatory reforms.  It also removes unique federal statutory barriers at certain projects that have been in place for almost 75 years to empower the private sector to produce clean, renewable hydropower while generating federal revenues and helping to create jobs in rural America,”said Subcommittee Chairman Tom McClintock (CA-04).  

“This common sense legislation will immediately put people back to work in rural communities developing clean, renewable hydropower at no cost to taxpayers, while helping lower energy costs for Americans.  Irrigation districts in states like Montana provide valuable sources of water for pastures and farm land, but also hold tremendous potential for serving our country’s energy needs.  It’s time for these outdated and senseless federal barriers to be removed so that this renewable energy source can be developed,” said Congressman Steve Daines (MT-At Large).

At the hearing, witnesses testified before the Subcommittee in support of H.R. 1963 with a common message that development of this safe, clean, and cost effective technology will provide job, economic, and environmental benefits both nationwide and to the communities surrounding these hydropower projects.    

Mike Carlson, manager of the Buffalo River Rapids Irrigation District #1 in Glendive, Montana, hailed H.R. 1963 as innovative and underscored the importance of water resources in the West.  Carlson said, “Water is precious to us and we have managed this resources wisely for the good of the community and the world’s food supply.  Give us the opportunity to look at another renewable resource option that would have been prevented from exploring until now.  Adoption of this law will also trigger the development of new engineering technology for small scale hydropower and this may have world benefits.  Passage of HR 1963 will promote investment, produce revenue to irrigation districts, and provide clean energy.”

Gary Kennedy, superintendent of the Mancos Water Conservancy District in Mancos, Colorado, also voiced his support of this legislation.  “This bill will allow authority for these projects to benefit from the advancement in hydro power generation…I view this bill as a housekeeping effort to clarify what policies should be for hydropower development.  This bill will correct that issue, it is a responsible step to take for the environment at no cost to the federal government.” 

The Obama Administration’s witness, Robert Quint of the Bureau of Reclamation, also testified in support of the legislation while recommending a few technical changes.


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