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Providing For Consideration of H.R. 2842, Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development ad Rural JOBS Act of 2011

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. McCLINTOCK. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Madam Speaker, this rule brings to the floor one of the most simple and sensible bills on energy development that we have yet heard. It is H.R. 2842, offered by the gentleman from Colorado (Mr. Tipton).

What it promises is this: At precisely no cost to taxpayers, freeing up absolutely clean electricity on a scale so vast that it would take several hydroelectric dams to duplicate, simply by relaxing the regulatory stranglehold, simply by getting government bureaucrats out of the way, this bill has the potential of adding thousands of megawatts of absolutely clean and renewable electricity to the Nation's energy supply, reducing utility bills, reducing reliance on fossil fuels, and, to answer the gentlelady from New York, adding thousands of permanent high-paying jobs to the Nation's economy. All that is necessary for this to happen is for government bureaucrats to get out of the way and allow people to place small hydroelectric generators in thousands of miles of existing pipelines, canals, and aqueducts.

This doesn't involve new construction. The facilities are already there. It doesn't involve any adverse impact to the environment. These are water pipes and canals in which there are no fish of any kind. And yet this administration forces water users and developers to go through a lengthy, costly, and pointless environmental review process that literally doubles the cost of these projects and makes them cost prohibitive.

The reason there are so few applications is because the requirements of this absurd law simply make these projects cost prohibitive, and it simply doesn't make sense to move forward with them. This bill simply says this: You don't need to go through that nonsense anymore.

Now, why isn't this bill being taken up on suspension? It would be one of the all-time no-brainers.

It passed the Natural Resources Committee on a bipartisan vote. The reason that this debate is required is because this commonsense legislation is vigorously opposed by the environmental left; that is the measure of extremism from which this movement now suffers. Perhaps the best way to alert the American people to this extremism is through debate that this rule makes possible.

A generation ago, in the 1960s, electricity was so cheap that some communities didn't even bother with electricity meters, and there's a reason for that. In those days, we were building hydroelectric dams that not only protected us from floods and droughts, but that delivered electricity for as little as 3 cents per kilowatt hour. At that price, an average household's electricity bill would come to about $30 a month. That dream seems surreal today.
Today, government regulations are literally threatening the ability of this Nation to generate sufficient electricity to keep people's air conditioning and refrigerators running in the summer, just as similar policies prevent Americans from prospering from our vast petroleum reserves and nuclear power potential.

It's no coincidence that the States with the most stringent regulations also have the highest electricity prices and the sickest economies. People of my State of California, the land of vast unrealized hydroelectric potential and a pioneer in nuclear power, now use less electricity per capita than any other State in the Union, and yet we pay among the highest electricity prices in the country. We also suffer from one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, despite ceaseless empty promises of green jobs.

Now along comes this bill by Mr. Tipton of Colorado that does everything the environmental left claims it likes: It produces absolutely clean and renewable electricity in vast quantities at precisely no cost to taxpayers. It requires no new construction. All that's necessary to achieve this is to put small generators in existing pipelines and canals that have already passed environmental review and pose no conceivable environmental impact. Yet, instead of embracing this measure, these radical elements instead throw a conniption fit.

Well, let them do that in public. Let the American people see this debate. Let them see for themselves the nihilistic ideology behind this movement and how it is practiced by those in this Congress who share and support it, and then let the American people judge. I think the debate over this bill will offer our fellow citizens a real insight into this movement, and I support the resolution that makes this debate possible.


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