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Bipartisan “Electricity Reliability and Forest Protection Act” to Help Ratepayers and Wildlife

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 20, 2015 - Today, the Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans held a legislative hearing to review the Electricity Reliability and Forest Protection Act (H.R. 2358).   This bipartisan legislation, introduced by Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) and Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR), will improve the safety and reliability of electricity transmission and distribution lines on federal lands.  This bill will bring federal consistency and accountability to how power lines are protected from tree hazards, thereby helping with grid reliability and stabilizing electricity rates. 

“This bill is a win because it corrects federal inconsistency and indecision that governs the way our local power providers can, and cannot, service their lines on federally owned land,” stated Rep. Zinke. “Currently, if a tree falls on a power line that is on federal land, utility crews must go through regulatory backflips in order to remove the tree.  This can take months and in some cases years, and causes dangerous fire conditions in our tinderbox forests. It should not take an Act of Congress to remove a fallen tree…Montanans and all Americans deserve reliable electric service to keep their lights on and an accountable and consistent federal government that will reduce power-line caused fires.”

“The safety and reliability of our electrical systems is paramount, particularly in rural America.  It is unacceptable that many of our utilities continue to see unnecessary delays getting approval from federal agencies for what should be considered routine maintenance and improvements to power lines and infrastructure within their right of way on federal lands,” Rep. Schrader said. “Much of the maintenance is required by federal or state law and the federal government is not holding up its end of the bargain in providing timely, consistent guidelines to our electrical utilities, affecting their ability to supply safe and reliable power to their customers.  By passing the Electricity Reliability and Forest Protection Act, we will reform this process and provide our utilities with clearer, more user-friendly government regulations and restore some commonsense into these land management decisions.”

The bill has been endorsed by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the American Public Power Association, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and the Edison Electric Institute

For more information on the hearing, including witness testimony, please visit the website.

Contact: Committee Press Office 202-226-9019

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