Today, during a floor debate in the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Grace F. Napolitano (CA-38) expressed her opposition to H.R. 2842, the Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act of 2011, because of the way it overrides critical environmental protections. Napolitano continues to support small-scale hydropower projects, but objected to the bill's waiver of National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) environmental reviews before implementing such projects.
"We can develop new sources of hydropower without disregarding environmental regulations," Napolitano said. "While I support the goal of increasing hydropower, this bill goes a step too far by granting a blanket exemption from critical environmental laws."
Napolitano cited three hydropower projects currently underway in Colorado, which is the home state of the bill's sponsor, Rep. Scott Tipton, as an example of how such projects can succeed under current law. The projects are located in Carter Lake, Ridgeway, and South Canal, Uncompahgre Project.
"These are not radical regulations," Napolitano said. "NEPA protections have been the law of the land for more than forty years."
Napolitano is the ranking member of the Water and Power Subcommittee on the House Natural Resources Committee.