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Public Statements

Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydro Power Development Act of 2011

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. MARKEY. I thank the gentlelady very much.

Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to this legislation.

After 427 days in the majority and having no energy or jobs strategy to show for it, House Republicans are now offering H.R. 2842, the Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act.

We need legislation that gets hydro projects moving and that gets hard hats down in the ditches again. Instead, Republicans are offering more legislation that is certain to be ditched by the Senate. We should encourage the development of small hydropower projects at existing facilities. In fact, if the legislation simply gave the Bureau of Reclamation exclusive jurisdiction to develop hydropower at Federal reclamation facilities, I would support it. If it mandated that the Bureau of Reclamation institute categorical exclusions for their small hydro projects, I would support it.

But Republicans, they just couldn't help themselves. It doesn't matter the nature of the problem. For Republicans, the problem is always just nature, so they went and gutted environmental review altogether in this bill. That's what happens when your entire economic platform is deregulation and gutting safety and environmental protections. You start waiving environmental review even when the industry you're trying to help isn't asking for it. If the Republicans had simply followed the advice of the hydro industry, we would have a noncontroversial bill that I could support and recommend to all of the Democratic Members that we pass 435 to nothing out here on the House floor this afternoon. Instead, it's ideology over hydrology. That's what the Republicans bring to the floor today.

If Republicans are serious about advancing the hydro industry, here is what they can do: extend the production tax credit, support clean renewable energy bonds, support domestic clean energy manufacturing tax credits, and extend the section 1603 renewable energy grant program.

Here is what those successful Recovery Act programs have already done:

Three companies have received $67 million in tax credits to build hydro-related manufacturing facilities in the United States. Eight companies have received $2 million in grants to support hydro deployment under the 1603 renewable energy grant program. Clean renewable energy bonds have supported $531 million in public power hydro projects across the country.

But Republicans aren't interested in doing something constructive for hydro or for any other clean energy technology. With their oil-above-all strategy, Republicans want to continue subsidizing the oil and gas industry $4 billion annually--$40 billion over 10 years--but shut down all of the clean energy programs that I just outlined. They're going directly after any and all threats to Big Oil and Big Coal, and they're targeting clean energy jobs for elimination.

Republicans on our committee have reported out a bill that would repeal the borrowing authority that the Western Area Power Administration currently has to help finance transmission serving renewable energy projects. Between one project in Montana that is already under construction and three others that are deep into development, there are 11,500 jobs at stake, but the Republicans don't care about those 11,500 jobs.

Then there is the wind industry. Ten thousand American workers have already been cut in the wind industry because the production tax credit is expiring at the end of the year and orders are drying up; 27,000 more wind workers will lose their jobs if Republicans get their way and raise taxes on the wind industry beginning on December 31 of this year.

A clean energy wave is upon us. America needs a vibrant domestic hydro industry, along with a healthy wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass industry, if we are to capture its benefits. Otherwise this wave will crash down upon us and, instead, carry the Chinese and the Indian and German economies to prosperity.

Let us vote down this bad bill before us and move on to the real policies that will help America's hydro sector.

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