Mr. TIPTON. As a sponsor of this bipartisan legislation, I support the rule on H.R. 2842, and I encourage an open debate because I believe the merits of this bill will speak for themselves. H.R. 2842 is a bipartisan plan to authorize new hydropower production and streamline the regulatory process in order to create new American jobs.
Many rural water and irrigation districts and electric utilities in western States seek to develop hydropower on Bureau of Reclamation water canals and pipelines, but overburdensome and unnecessary regulations stand in the way and discourage investment in these projects. Most of these small projects are not currently authorized at Bureau of Reclamation canals and, as a result, they never get off the ground. Those that are currently authorized are subject to an additional review process under the National Environmental Policy Act even though the canals on which they are built have already gone through a full environmental review when they were constructed or rehabilitated.
H.R. 2842 authorizes the production of hydropower at all Bureau of Reclamation conduits; and by doing so, it allows placement of small hydropower generators on existing man-made canals and pipes that have already gone through the NEPA process. This authorization does not currently exist, and therefore hydropower development under current reclamation law will not happen unless Congress acts. This bill also eliminates duplicative red tape by exempting small hydropower projects on previously disturbed ground from going through an additional NEPA review. This bill does not apply to rivers, large dams, or natural-flowing waters in any way, and it will not impact endangered fish or wildlife.
In many cases, having to go through an additional unnecessary review process determines whether or not a hydropower project is economically feasible and, as a result, determines whether or not this country moves forward with the development of green energy.
Chris Treese of the Colorado Water District in the Natural Resources Committee testified on this bill and he stated: Environmental reviews under NEPA are universally time consuming and expensive. The River District's current experience with an environmental assessment on a nonconstruction action has taken over a year and nearly $1 million in outside expenses.
By eliminating this duplicative requirement, we can add power to the grid, provide an environment for job growth in rural America and return revenues to the Treasury. This commonsense piece of legislation has bipartisan cosponsorship and passed out [Page: H1176] of the committee with bipartisan support. It's also been endorsed by the rural irrigators and electric utilities that operate the Bureau of Reclamation canals and know the issue best. These organizations include: the Family Farm Alliance, the National Water Resources Association, the American Public Power Association, and the Association of California Water Agencies.
I'm proud to offer this contribution to the House Republicans of the all-of-the-above energy strategy for America, and I look forward to a spirited discussion on how we can produce more renewable energy and put our people in this country back to work.