Rep. Scott Tipton's (CO-03) Hydropower and Rural Jobs Act (H.R. 678) is heading to the President's desk for a signature after passing the Senate today. Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) provided bipartisan support for the legislation as a co-sponsor of the Senate companion (S. 306) carried by Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY). The bill, which would create rural jobs by expanding the production of clean renewable hydropower, passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support earlier this year.
"This is a victory for all of the communities in Colorado and throughout the U.S. that will benefit from this clean, affordable source of energy and the jobs hydropower production will create. I want to thank my colleagues over in the Senate for joining us in taking action to encourage responsible energy development and putting into place an important piece of an all-of-the-above domestic energy plan," Tipton said. "By streamlining the regulatory process and providing the opportunity for expedited hydropower production in canals and conduits that have already undergone environmental analysis, we will free up the potential to generate enough power for a million homes in Colorado alone, and create new jobs in the process. I encourage the President to swiftly sign this responsible energy and jobs legislation into law."
"Just as water makes the West as we know it possible, hydropower plays an important role in supplying our country with clean, renewable energy. I am proud the Senate stood with me and passed these important, bipartisan bills that will unleash the potential of hydropower on waterways across Colorado and throughout the country," Udall said. "We still have work to do to achieve true energy self-reliance, but these bills help move the ball down the field."
By eliminating duplicative environmental analysis on existing manmade Bureau of Reclamation conduits (pipes, ditches, and canals) that have received a full review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), H.R. 678 streamlines the regulatory process and reduces administrative costs for the installation of small hydropower development projects within those conduits. In doing so, the bill encourages increased small hydropower development, which will create new rural jobs in Colorado, add clean, affordable electricity to the grid to power homes and communities, modernize infrastructure, and supply the federal government with additional revenues.
The Hydropower and Rural Jobs Act has been endorsed by the Family Farm Alliance, the National Water Resources Association, the Colorado River District, and the American Public Power Association, among others.
"This bill facilitates low cost, clean, renewable hydropower installations in canals and conduits across the arid west," said Chris Treese of the Colorado River District. "Colorado River District applauds Congressman Tipton for his leadership and determination on this milestone legislation."
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has reported that H.R. 678 has no cost to taxpayers, and returns revenues to the treasury. The Interior Department has identified at least 28 Bureau of Reclamation canal sites in Colorado, and 373 nationwide, that could be developed for hydropower purposes.