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LETTER: Concerns about provisions in proposed Hydropower Policy Modernization Act of 2017

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May 1, 2017

Honorable Greg Walden, Chairman
Committee on Energy and Commerce
U.S. House of Representatives
2125 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Honorable Frank J. Pallone, Ranking Member
Committee on Energy and Commerce
U.S. House of Representatives
2322A Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Chairman Walden and Ranking Member Pallone:

Western Governors recognize the importance of renewable energy sources, including hydropower, as critical components of an all-of-the-above national energy portfolio. The West accounts for nearly 70 percent of the nation’s hydroelectric power generation, and the Pacific Northwest is the nation’s largest hydropower‐producing region. Western Governors support improving the efficiency of existing hydropower systems and increasing the amount of electricity generated from new, retrofitted, or relicensed hydroelectric facilities.

States are vested with primary authority to manage water within their borders, and they have the authority to develop, use, control and distribute water resources within their boundaries. As expressed in section B(1)(a) of WGA Policy Resolution 2015‐08, Water Resource Management in the West:

"While the Western Governors acknowledge the important role of federal laws such as the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act, nothing in any act of Congress or Executive Branch regulatory action should be construed as affecting or intending to affect states’ primacy over the allocation and administration of their water resources."

Western Governors are concerned about provisions in Section 34 (“Hydropower Licensing and Process Improvement”) of the proposed Hydropower Policy Modernization Act of 2017.  Portions of the language included in the published discussion draft of this proposal are identical to language of Subtitle B, “Hydropower Regulatory Modernization” of the proposed North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act of 2015 (H.R. 8).

On July 18, 2016, Governor Steve Bullock and Governor Dennis Daugaard provided correspondence (attached) to the Committee, expressing the Western Governors’ concerns over the language included in Subtitle B of H.R. 8, which would have designated the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) as lead agency for all hydropower authorizations, approvals, and requirements mandated by federal law, including hydropower facility licenses and amendments, as well as all permits, special use authorizations, certifications, and opinions. The Governors requested that this language be removed or amended so that existing state hydropower licensing authorities are not replaced, or in any way impeded, by FERC jurisdiction.

Western Governors request that the language in Section 34 of the proposed Hydropower Policy Modernization Act of 2017 be removed or amended so that states’ existing hydropower licensing authorities are in no way usurped by FERC jurisdiction. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

James D. Ogsbury
Executive Director
Wwstern Governors' Association

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