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Hydropower Hearing Held

Risch Pushes for Quicker Approvals on Hydropower Development

April 23, 2013

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jim Risch today questioned Jeff Wright, director of the Office of Energy Projects at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, about putting deadlines in place for federal agencies to respond to hydropower permitting requests.  Wright, who provided testimony and answered questions during a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, agreed there was merit in having deadlines.

Among the legislation the committee was considering were two bills of particular interest in Idaho.  The bills will streamline the permitting process for smaller hydropower projects.

The first bill, S. 306, the Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act, is sponsored by Senator Risch and Senator John Barasso (R-Wyo.).  The bill would streamline the development of hydropower within Bureau of Reclamation canals and pipelines.

The next bill, S. 545, the Hydropower Improvement Act of 2013 by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), is co-sponsored by Senator Risch.  This legislation would streamline the permitting through the FERC’s process for hydropower projects on closed-loop pumped storage and non-powered dams.  The bill has bipartisan support, including Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who is chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

“The regulatory process should not be an impediment to developing hydropower projects.  We have a proven clean energy source within numerous canals, pipes and other projects that can be utilized.  We need to remove the barriers that prevent their development,” said Risch.

Risch has been critical of the administration’s “all of the above” energy claims since it does not include renewable hydropower.

Senator Mike Crapo is also a co-sponsor of S. 306 and S. 545.

Senator Risch’s questions and the responses by Director Wright can be seen on this YouTube link:

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