Tomorrow’s Water, Power & Oceans Hearing Will Feature GOP Arguing Against Tribal, Environmental Protections for Hydro Permitting

Washington, D.C. – Democrats at tomorrow’s Water, Power and Oceans Subcommittee hearing on hydropower development will reject Republican demands to weaken protections for tribes and the environment in the hydropower licensing process.

Given the length of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) hydropower licenses – which are typically valid for 50 years – many hydropower projects coming up for relicensing are operating on permits granted prior to the passage of modern environmental laws. As a result, some hydropower projects up for relicense will require facility upgrades to come into compliance with current law. Republicans will attempt to argue at the hearing that Congress should roll back protections for the environment and tribes to make sure older hydropower projects can avoid badly needed upgrades.

Republicans will also claim that complying with environmental laws prevents hydropower sites from operating – even though licensees can operate on existing licenses in perpetuity while going through the relicensing process.

In 2016 hydropower produced approximately 6.5 percent of total U.S. electricity generation, although it accounts for a significantly higher percentage of electricity generation in some states.

“Republican talking points about hydropower are simplistic on purpose,” said Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today. “They basically argue that since water is clean, any dam anywhere under any circumstances should automatically be considered a great idea. That’s ridiculous. We happen to be talking about hydropower at this hearing, but the majority lobbies for waiving environmental standards at every hearing they call because they always favor short-term profit over managing resources for the long haul.”

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