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Public Statements

Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. GOSAR. Thank you, Chairman Hastings.

Madam Chairman, I rise in support of H.R. 678, the Bureau of Reclamation and Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act of 2013. This legislation was one of Representative Tipton's and my top priorities in the Natural Resources Committee last Congress, so I am pleased to join him again as an original cosponsor and appreciate that the House is taking up the legislation so quickly in the 113th Congress.

Our country is failing to fully tap its hydroelectric power generation potential. The Federal Government owns over 47,000 miles of canals, laterals, drains, pipeline and tunnels throughout the West that are perfectly suitable for hydropower production, but hardworking irrigators and power providers in our districts, already operating and maintaining this infrastructure on behalf of the Federal Government, cannot install hydropower generators because government regulations and bureaucratic confusion are making it cost prohibitive.

H.R. 678 will clear away these bureaucratic obstacles that stand between our Nation and thousands of megawatts of clean, cheap, abundant, and reliable hydroelectricity. The resulting development will create jobs in rural communities hit hardest by the recession, increase our country's renewable energy portfolio, and even generate revenue for the Federal Treasury.

The Members of this body opposing this legislation claim it could cause harm to the environment. To be clear, this bill only allows for development on existing irrigation canals and ditch systems, not free-flowing rivers and streams. These conduits have been in place for years, do not contain any endangered wildlife or fish, and were subject to environmental analysis at the time of construction or rehabilitation.

On the poster to my left is a clear example of what we are talking about. Folks, it's concrete. It's been sitting here with running water. I don't see the need and I hope you don't see the need for a NEPA environmental assessment. This canal is in the western part of my congressional district. We have miles of this type of infrastructure throughout the State, including the Central Arizona Project. It provides my constituents with the water necessary to live in the desert and even grow a good portion of this Nation's produce.

The experts on the ground say we are sitting on a hydropower gold mine waiting for the needed clarifications and streamlining that will cut costs and make this program more attractive. There are over 26 locations just like this one in my State alone--mostly in Yuma, Pinal, and western Maricopa Counties--that are suitable for this development. The Agri-Business Council of Arizona believes its members could produce enough low-cost clean energy to power nearly 5,000 homes simply by installing these small hydropower generators. That is a huge economic impact for the small rural communities these irrigators serve. They would provide a real economic boost and lower energy costs.

There are many solutions to our Nation's energy crisis, but hydropower is clearly part of our all-of-the-above plan. It already accounts for about 75 percent of this country's total renewable electricity generation, and we haven't even begun yet.

Early this Congress, the House unanimously passed the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act, which promotes development on privately owned infrastructure. We should do the same today on Congressman Tipton's and my legislation that does the same for publicly owned infrastructure.

Congress would be doing the American people an injustice if we didn't move swiftly on this bill. Hydropower must be an integral component of the long-term all-of-the-above energy strategy in Arizona and for our Nation, and this bill will allow rural western communities to play a major role in that future. I will continue to work with Congressman Tipton to ensure that this bill not only passes the House this year but gets through the Senate and is sent to the President's desk for his signature. Folks, it is that simple: commonsense utilization of infrastructure we already have.

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