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Extending Deadline For Construction Of Price Dam Hydroelectric Project

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. WALDEN. I thank my colleague from Louisiana.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today also in support of this legislation. I think it's a good bill because I think hydroelectric power is a good thing for our country, and when we're concerned about getting renewable energy online, there's probably nothing better than hydropower for that.

Unfortunately, in the cap-and-tax bill that was passed by this House over my objection and over the objection of the gentleman from Illinois, there is a provision on page 19, line 12, sub 3, that says, The hydroelectric project installed on the dam is operated so that the water surface elevation at any given location and time that would have occurred in the absence of the hydroelectric project is maintained.

Now, I share this language with you because the gentleman from Illinois, my friend, talked about the 404,000 watts or megawatts, whatever it is--I didn't jot down the exact amount--would be produced as hydroelectric power and, therefore, renewable energy and create new jobs. My concern is this: that hydropower is being added after this legislation is moving forward.

Should the cap-and-tax bill become law, that hydropower, according to this language, would not be considered as renewable energy for purposes of Illinois meeting the new Federal standard on renewable energy. Because in consultation with two civil engineers I've spoken with who operate hydro projects--many of them and large-scale hydro projects--when I shared this language with them about maintaining the surface elevation at any location in time, they laughed. They said you can't operate a hydro system and not affect the water behind the dam in some way at some point.

And so to disqualify the new hydro--like the gentleman from Illinois is trying to get here--makes no sense to me. Either hydropower is renewable or it's not.

Now, there is another provision in this bill, the cap-and-tax bill, that said hydro that came online after 1988 is renewable but hydro before 1988 is not. Now, you have got water flowing down a river. You've got multiple dams along the way with hydro generation facilities. It's the same water. It just depends on what year the dam was built whether or not that hydropower is considered renewable or not. That doesn't make a lot of sense.

Nor do the provisions in the cap-and-tax bill that said, if woody biomass off a Federal forest comes off of a late successional stand, you can't count the burning of that to produce green energy as renewable energy, but if it came off of a severely damaged tree, it is, although there is no definition for that. And if any woody biomass comes off private, county, State lands, it's all considered renewable energy when it produces electricity when it's burned, but yet there is this restriction on Federal land.

I share that with you because America's Federal forests are terrifically overstocked and subject to catastrophic fire.


Mr. WALDEN. We could create more real jobs cleaning up the forest in very depressed communities. I was just out in four counties in my district. I think two, maybe three, are now at over 20 percent unemployment. They have 70, 50 and 80 percent Federal land. This is the great forests of our country that are left to burn up. The woody biomass could be put into clean energy. There are firms willing to invest if they could get supply. Again, the cap-and-trade, cap-and-tax bill harms that effort.

So I share the gentleman's support of this legislation to create and move forward on the hydro project. It's unfortunate if the cap-and-tax bill that passed the House becomes law that hydro will not be considered renewal. That doesn't make sense. And I hope that the Senate can correct this problem.


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