House Panel Advances Tipton Rural Jobs Bill

Mar 20th @ 11:17 am in News by Scott Staley

Scott Tipton

Colorado stands to benefit from expansion of clean, renewable hydropower development

WASHINGTON – Today, the House Natural Resources Committee advanced with bipartisan support Rep. Scott Tipton’s (CO-03) legislation that would create rural jobs by expanding the production of clean renewable hydropower.  The Hydropower and Rural Jobs Act (H.R. 678) could receive a vote in the House as early as the next week the House is in session.

Sen. John Barrasso (WY) has introduced a Senate companion to Tipton’s bill this session.

“At a time when our country needs 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 rural America,” Tipton said. “I’m confident that this commonsense clean energy and jobs bill will receive a vote in the House soon and optimistic that it will head to the Senate with the momentum needed to propel it into law.”

The legislation, which received a Senate Water and Power Subcommittee hearing last year before time ran out in the session to pass it, will have a direct impact on the 3rd District where there is significant potential to expand hydropower development on existing Bureau of Reclamation canals and conduits that have already undergone environmental analysis.

H.R. 678 would accomplish this by streamlining red tape and reducing administrative costs for the installation of small canal and pipeline hydropower development projects. Increased small hydropower installation will create local jobs, add clean, affordable electricity to the grid to power homes and communities, modernize infrastructure, and supply the federal government with additional revenues.

“This bipartisan legislation reduces unnecessary and duplicative costs to encourage hydropower development.  These existing man-made facilities have already gone through environmental review, so there’s simply no need for another costly review. While the Bureau of Reclamation has recently attempted to address this by establishing its own categorical exclusion from NEPA, it has yet to implement this new policy and, as with all agency directives, is subject to later change by this administration or future administrations,” Tipton said. “I’m open to working with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to address their concerns with the NEPA provision, but the bottom line is that we must arrive at a statutory framework that streamlines the project approval process and reduces costs. H.R. 678 substantially reduces administrative planning costs and protects water users by specifically reaffirming hydropower development as secondary to water supply and delivery purposes.”

View Tipton’s full statement here.

Earlier this month, Chris Treese of the Colorado River Water Conservation District, told the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power that Reclamation projects in his water district would benefit from Tipton’s legislation.

“I know of several districts that have considered hydropower investment, but never seriously, as they are discouraged by the regulatory uncertainty and costs currently represented by the existing permitting process,” Treese said. “We support H.R. 678 and believe it will reduce costs and foster more conduit hydropower at federal facilities and empower irrigation districts involved in the operation and maintenance of these Reclamation canals to develop and benefit from this clean energy source. We further believe it will clarify issues of federal authority on these projects that will improve and streamline the decision-making processes.”