LINK - A Terrible Bill Gets Thumbs Down from the Environmental Community

 

Their letter to their Reps:

On behalf of our millions of members, we urge you not to support H.R. 3043, the Hydropower Policy Modernization Act of 2017. While we agree that improving the hydropower licensing process is a laudable goal, this legislation falls short in several key respects. If enacted, the 100 year-old balance in hydroelectric licensing would be upended and more and more decisions would be made by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) employees in DC rather than state, tribal, or federal resource managers closest to the projects. We ask you to reject this bill’s reversal of federalism and insist the Committee on Energy and Commerce at least hear testimony from states, tribes, and federal resource managers before it hands their authority to the unelected Commission.

H.R. 3043 changes the definition of what a “federal authorization” in hydroelectric licensing is, potentially implicating everything from state Supreme Court opinions on a state’s water laws to U.S. Forest Service’s road use permits. The change in definition would place these things and more within FERC’s jurisdiction. The bill creates a dispute resolution process that allows FERC to subvert the Clean Water Act to remove local water quality management out of the hands of the states and tribes and place it into federal political appointees. This bill gives FERC the power to set a schedule for state, federal, and tribal resource managers to exercise their sovereign or statutory authority—something FERC has previously tried to do, only to be rebuffed by the courts. H.R. 3043 further empowers FERC to allow amendments to licenses to circumvent the current process and to reject conditions from states that would conform project operations to current law if FERC doesn’t deem them “economically feasible.” 

The changes to the Federal Power Act (FPA) proposed by this bill would constrain the ability of resource agencies to protect public resources such as fish, wildlife, recreation, and rivers from the unnecessary negative impacts of hydropower projects. Congressionally granted agency authorities to protect fish and wildlife and water quality, such as those in the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act, are critical components of the licensing process and allow for a fully informed licensing decision. Constraining these reviews by state, tribal, and federal agencies doesn’t yield a better process, it just yields a less informed process that in turn, will create further delay. This is not in the public’s interest. We believe there is a better way to achieve the goal reducing delays in hydropower licensing. The single-greatest cause of delay in hydroelectric licensing is the failure of applicants to provide information required by oversight entities to contribute scientifically based and legally defensible license conditions. Adequate communication and cooperation between federal agencies, including FERC, is the single most effective way to ensure smooth and timely licensing process. FERC should grant study requests from federal, state, and tribal agencies that are necessary for them to carry out their independent reviews and promote memoranda of understanding (MOU) with tribes and states to improve coordination and prevent unnecessary delay. 

H.R. 3043 is the wrong approach to improving hydropower. It takes power away from states and tribes and impairs the ability of federal resource managers to uphold the Endangered Species Act, Magnuson-Stevens-Act, and treaty rights and trust obligations to American Indian nations. We stand committed to improving the process, but not at the expense of responsible resource management based on science and trust obligations. Please vote NO on H.R. 3043 and help us work to preserve federalism, trust responsibilities, and timely hydroelectric licensing.

 

Sincerely,

 

Alabama Rivers Alliance Birmingham, AL

Alaska Survival Talkeetna, AK

All Outdoors Lotus, CA

Alliance for the Great Lakes Chicago, IL

Alpine Lakes Protection Society Seattle, WA

Altamaha Riverkeeper Macon GA

American Packrafting Association Wilson, WY

American Rivers Washington, D.C.

American Whitewater Cullowhee, NC

Anacostia Watershed Society Bladensburg, MD

Anglers of the Au Sable Grayling, MI

Appalachian Mountain Club Boston, MA

Association of Northwest Steelheaders Milwaukie, OR

Atlantic Salmon Federation Brunswick, ME

Black Warrior Riverkeeper Birmingham, AL

California Hydropower Reform Coalition Sacramento, CA

California Outdoors Coloma, CA

California Sportfishing Protection Alliance Berkeley, CA

California Trout San Francisco, CA

Cascade Forest Conservancy Portland, OR

Cascadia Wildlands Eugene, OR

Catawba Riverkeeper Charlotte, NC

Center for Biological Diversity Washington D.C.

Center for Environmental Law & Policy Seattle, WA

Coastal Conservation League Charleston, SC

Columbiana Oroville, WA

Congaree Riverkeeper Columbia, SC

Connecticut River Conservancy Greenfield, MA

Conservation Law Foundation Boston, MA

Conservation Northwest Bellingham, WA

Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship Oakton, VA

Coosa Riverkeeper Mt Laurel, AL

Defenders of Wildlife Washington, D.C.

Deschutes River Alliance  Maupin, Oregon

Downeast Salmon Federation  Columbia Falls, ME

Earth Design Annapolis, MD

Endangered Habitats League Los Angeles, CA  

Environmental Protection Information Center Arcata, CA

Foothill Conservancy Jackson, CA

Foothills Paddling Club Greenville, SC

Foothills Water Network Coloma, CA

Friends of Butte Creek Chico, CA

Friends of Cooper Landing Cooper Landing, AK 

Friends of Grays Harbor Westport, WA

Friends of Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Soldotna, AK

Friends of Merrymeeting Bay Richmond, ME

Friends of the Crooked River Peninsula, OH

Friends of the Eel River Arcata, CA

Friends of the Kinni River Falls, WI

Friends of the River Sacramento, CA 

Friends of the White Salmon River White Salmon, WA

Golden West Women Flyfishers San Francisco, CA

Great Lakes Council Fly Fishers International Pentwater, MI

Green Latinos Washington, D.C.

Hells Canyon Preservation Council  La Grande, Oregon

High Country Conservation Advocates Crested Butte, CO

Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters, USA-JPIC Northfield, IL

Hydropower Reform Coalition Washington, D.C.

Idaho Rivers United Boise, ID

Illinois Council of Trout Unlimited Oak Brook, IL

Institute for Fisheries Resources Eugene, OR 

James River Association Richmond, VA

Kalmiopsis Audubon Society  Port Orford, OR

Kenai River Watershed Foundation Cooper Landing, AK

Klamath Forest Alliance Orleans, CA

Klamath Riverkeeper Somes Bar, CA

Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center Ashland, OR

Lower Columbia Canoe Club Portland, OR

Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper Assn. Wrightsville, PA 17368

Maine Rivers Yarmouth, ME

Michigan Environmental Council Lansing, MI

Michigan Hydro Relicensing Coalition Pentwater, MI

Milwaukee Riverkeeper Milwaukee, WI 

Mousam and Kennebunk Rivers Alliance Kennebunk, ME

Native Fish Society Oregon City, OR

Natural Heritage Institute San Francisco, CA

Natural Resources Council of Maine Augusta, ME  

Naturaland Trust Greenville, SC 

Nature Abounds DuBois, PA

Naugatuck River Revival Group Naugatuck, CT

New England FLOW Lancaster, MA

North Cascades Conservation Council Seattle, WA

Northwest Environmental Advocates Portland, OR 

Northwest Guides and Anglers Assn. Clackamas, OR

Northwest Resources Information Center  Eagle, ID 

Oregon Kayak & Canoe Club Portland, OR

Oregon Natural Desert Association Bend, OR

Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations Eugene, OR 

Pacific Rivers Portland, OR

Planning and Conservation League  Sacramento, CA

Potomac Riverkeeper Washington, D.C.

Quartz Creek Homeowners' Association Cooper Landing, AK

Religious Coalition for the Great Lakes Milwaukee, WI

River Alliance of Wisconsin Madison, WI

River Guardian Foundation Raleigh, NC

River Network Boulder, CO

Rogue Riverkeeper Ashland, OR

San Juan Citizens Alliance Durango, Colorado

Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition Seattle, WA

Smith River Alliance Crescent City, CA

Snake River Waterkeeper Boise, ID

South Carolina Native Plant Society Greenville, SC

South Yuba River Citizens League Nevada City, CA

Spartanburg Area Conservancy Spartanburg, SC

Spearfish Canyon Society Spearfish, SD

St. Mary's River Watershed Association St. Mary’s city, MD

The Mountaineers Seattle, WA

Tuolumne River Trust Modesto CA

Upstate Forever Greenville, SC

Washington Wild  Seattle, WA

Waterkeepers Chesapeake Takoma Park, MD

WaterWatch of Oregon Portland, OR

WESPAC Foundation  White Plains, NY

West Michigan Hacklers Pentwater, MI

Western Environmental Law Center Eugene, OR

Wild Washington Rivers Index, WA 

WildEarth Guardians Santa Fe, NM

Yadkin Riverkeeper  Winston-Salem, NC

Zoar Valley Paddling Club Charlemont, MA

Ted Williams