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Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mrs. LUMMIS. I rise in support of H.R. 678, of which I'm an original cosponsor, and I want to thank Representative Tipton, Chairman McClintock, and Chairman Hastings for their hard work on this bill, which unlocks significant hydropower development potential in my home State of Wyoming.

Congress and the Bureau of Reclamation have over the years created hundreds of canals and pipelines to serve water uses in the West. Most of these conduits were never envisioned as power sources because the technology wasn't there or it wasn't yet cost-effective. But technology has changed, and now it's feasible to harness and channel the energy byproduct of these water flows. The Bureau of Reclamation has identified 373 conduits in the West with hydropower potential. Wyoming leads the States with 121 of these sites and is second only to

Colorado in terms of the potential energy output. In Wyoming alone, the estimated potential is 82 million kilowatt hours annually from a clean, renewable energy source. Unleashing this potential, while still protecting the environment and end water users, is what this bill is all about.

First, H.R. 678 eliminates bureaucratic confusion by expressly authorizing the Bureau to oversee hydropower development in its conduits.

Second, it directs the Bureau of Reclamation to exempt small hydropower projects from duplicative environmental paperwork requirements. We're talking about placing small power generators in canals and ditches where the ground has already been disturbed. Fences have gone up. Environmental analysis has been conducted, sometimes multiple times because of the Bureau's contract renewals with some water users. Requiring duplicative environmental analysis on preexisting conduits makes no sense, provides no environmental benefit, and imposes more costs and bureaucratic uncertainty on potential developers.

Third, the bill protects water supply and delivery as the primary and fundamental priority for these conduits, whose vital mission will not be disrupted.

I urge my colleagues to support this commonsense, jobs-creating bill.


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