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Public Statements

Injustice at the Lake

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mrs. HARTZLER. Every day we hear of some new government overreach coming from Washington. Well, today I want to tell you about perhaps the biggest overreach of all--centered around a pristine, beautiful place in my district, the Lake of the Ozarks.

The Lake of the Ozarks was built in the 1930s and includes over 1,100 miles of shoreline and is home to thousands of homes and residents and tens of thousands of Americans who enjoy the beauty and the lifestyle of living on the lake. Every day you'll find families and people of all ages enjoying the waters and being with each other surrounded by God's beauty of the Ozark hills.

In the spring, we enjoy the Dogwood Festival there, when the hillsides are dotted with the whites and pinks of the dogwood amidst the lime green background of budding trees. In the fall, the hills are ablaze with the colors of autumn. There's something special about seeing it all from a boat on the lake, pulling up to one of the many marinas and restaurants to grab a bite to eat on the water, and then head back home as the sun sets over the water and the sky changes from orange to blue to star studded. The lake is a special place, and it is under attack. It is under attack from the Federal Government.

This summer, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued an order requiring the removal of over 4,000 what they call ``encroachments'' from around the shoreline of the lake, including over 1,200 homes. Think about that. The Federal Government has ordered the removal and destruction of over 1,200 homes--all that have free and clear title to their property and have been paying property taxes on them for decades. It's shocking. It's outrageous. It's infuriating. And it's got to be stopped.

You ask, how did this happen? The Lake of the Ozarks is a privately owned lake owned by Ameren UE. Power is generated from a hydroelectric plant at the lake's dam. FERC regulates the power plant and required Ameren to submit a shoreline management plan as part of a 40-year lease application for the continued operation of Bagnell Dam and the Osage Renewable Energy Center.

Ameren submitted the paperwork over 2 years ago; and after sitting on the application for over 2 years, this July FERC rejected their plan and substituted their own plan, which includes an order requiring Ameren to remove as many as 4,000 out-of-compliance structures near the shoreline and within the boundary of the Bagnell Dam project.

Here's an example of some of the structures they say need to go. FERC stated the structures ``should be removed in a timely manner and the site restored to preexisting conditions.'' This ludicrous order could result in the unnecessary removal of thousands of homes and other structures along over 1,100 miles of shoreline.

What makes this action so onerous is that the property owners have clear title to this land with an easement giving them a right to do with their property as they wish. The deeds issued in the 1930s when the lake was built also reserved a right for the landowners to utilize the lakeshore and adjoining underwater land for ``any and all purposes,'' including ``the erection and maintenance of improvements thereon.''

FERC's order is nothing more than a public taking and it needs to be stopped. If it's not, it will be devastating to our area's economy, home values, businesses and, most importantly, devastating to the wonderful, hardworking people who have invested their life savings to live, raise a family, and retire at Missouri's beautiful Lake of the Ozarks.

The Lake of the Ozarks is one of the most popular tourist destinations, not only in Missouri, but across the Nation. It has homeowners from all 50 States of the union.

FERC's action could cause irreparable harm to the homeowners, boating, to fishing, water sports, and other business interests. It will cause uncertainty and fear that property values will plummet, and has already locked up the real estate market at the lake.

FERC's actions are causing the whole lake community to suffer economically. Economic downturn will lead to delays in much-needed infrastructure repairs and will hurt schools, which depend on property taxes to provide our children with the quality education they deserve.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is a prime example of an out-of-control government agency. It must be stopped. That's why on Monday, I introduced H.R. 3244. This bill will remove FERC's power to tell landowners that they must remove structures from around the lake.

I was joined by all of the other Missouri Members of the House of Representatives, five other Republicans, and three Democrats. Our two U.S. Senators, one Republican and one Democrat, introduced an identical bill in the other Chamber. This is a rare show of bipartisanship these days, which just shows how indefensible FERC's actions are.

We may disagree on other issues, but on this one we are united. Washington's overreach must be stopped. It's time to put the genie back in the bottle and ensure it doesn't wreak havoc on our lives, our lake, and our rights.


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