McMorris Rodgers Gets Flood of Support For Hydropower Bill

By Tom Bacon

Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers pulled off a feat that few in the mosh-pit of Congress have ever been able to accomplish.  She got a bill passed UNANIMOUSLY.

The vote tally was 422-to-zero for her hydropower regulatory efficiency act.  And the legislation is a real bill to create law, not just one of the countless and meaningless resolutions that choke the legislative calendar.

McMorris-Rodgers got Democratic co-sponsorship for her bill from a couple of the old lions of the Democratic Party in the House - John Dingell of Michigan and Ed Markey of Massachusetts.

The measure is meant to encourage production of relatively small amounts of electricity from small hydropower dams which are not currently licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. It would free small hydroelectric power dams from extended and costly federal licensing rules.

The bill also waives licensing for non-federal dams that would generate up to 5 megawatts of power, and for existing electric power generation facilities that could generate conduit power of up to 40 megawatts. McMorris-Rodgers' bill also orders the Department of Energy to study possible hydropower generation at so-called pumped storage facilities - that is, reservoirs which depend on water pumped back into them to maintain minimum elevations.

The bill now goes to the Senate where it may also get friendly treatment.
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