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Providing for Consideration of H.R. 678, Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. TIPTON. I thank Chairman Bishop for yielding.

When we're talking about job creation in this country, I think it's worthy to note I just traveled through the Third Congressional District of Colorado visiting with people from Pueblo to Alamosa, Durango, Cortez, Montrose, Craig, Hayden, and Steamboat. One of the greatest challenges that they face is regulations coming out of Washington when it comes to job creation.

The fact of the matter is we're spending $1.75 trillion per year for businesses to be able to comply with government mandates. Is it a sensible approach to be able to look at regulations that simply don't work and are inhibiting job creation and our ability to be able to achieve the most carbon-free, environmentally friendly legislation that we can have? That's hydropower. That is a sensible approach.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to vote in favor of House Resolution 140 and for an open discussion on how we're going to be able to work together to be able to promote clean, renewable hydropower development in rural America and create much-needed jobs in the process. At a time when our country needs to be able to focus on domestic energy production and job creation, hydropower can play a critical role in providing clean renewable energy while expanding job opportunities in some of our hardest hit rural communities.

Hydropower is the cheapest and cleanest source of electricity available through modern technology. It's the highest source of non-carbon-emitting energy in the world and accounts for approximately 75 percent of the United States' total renewable electricity generation, making it the leading renewable energy resource of power. Canal-based hydropower can produce up to 1,400 megawatts of power in Colorado alone. Let's put this in perspective. This is the equivalent of the power produced by the originally designed output of the Glen Canyon Dam, just out of Colorado, not including the rest of the western United States.

Increased conduit hydropower serves a number of purposes: it produces renewable and emissions-free energy that can be used to pump water or sell electricity to the grid; it can offset diesel-generated pumps; it can generate revenue for the hydropower developer to help pay for aging infrastructure costs and water/power facility modernization; and it can create local jobs and generate revenue for the Federal Government.

As it stands, Federal regulations hinder this development on Federal projects and subject job creators to unnecessary requirements which can render small hydropower projects economically unfeasible. For this reason, I introduced H.R. 678, the Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act. This legislation authorizes power development at the agency's conduits to clear up multi-agency confusion and duplicative processes and reduces the regulatory costs associated with hydropower development.

H.R. 678, as passed by the Natural Resources Committee with bipartisan support, would eliminate the requirement of duplicative and unnecessary environmental analyses for projects on manmade facilities which already underwent a full environmental review at the time of their construction or when undergoing rehabilitation. The bill covers small hydropower generators installed on manmade pipes, ditches, and canals; and the renewable energy development promoted by the bill in no way impacts the natural environment. By streamlining this process, we can finally make these small conduit hydropower projects financially feasible and unleash private investment in clean energy that will reduce costs for ratepayers and increase tax revenue for the Treasury while putting people back to work.

I understand that some of my friends on the other side have reservations about this provision; and as I have made clear in the past, I'm open to working with my colleagues to be able to address their concerns with the NEPA provision. However, failure to address the existing regulatory uncertainty would negate one of the primary purposes of the bill and would ensure that the renewable energy development envisioned by the bill remains in limbo. I'm optimistic that discussing this issue openly will allay any concerns Members may have and allow us to be able to arrive at a solution which ensures the implementation of a statutory framework that streamlines the project approval process and reduces costs.

I'm proud to have the support of the Family Farm Alliance, the National Water Resources Association, and the American Public Power Association, among others. I think the broad support this bill has seen among those most directly impacted indicates how close we are to making this renewable energy development a reality. I look forward to an open discussion on the merits of the bill, which I believe will speak for themselves.


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