Hydropower helped build the Northwest, and still today, it provides Eastern Washington with a clean, renewable, reliable, and affordable energy supply to power our communities, our businesses, and our homes. In fact, hydropower alone accounts for 70 percent of our energy in Washington state and is the largest source of renewable energy in the country. But did you know, we could actually double our hydropower production without building a single new dam? Through utilizing modern technology and unleashing American innovation we can continue to support hydropower so it can continue to support us. Not to mention, we could create upwards of 700,000 jobs in the process.
One of the ways we can do that is by streamlining the way we license and relicense hydropower projects. On average it only takes 18 months to license a new natural gas facility in the U.S., but can take more than 10 years to license a new hydropower facility or renew an existing project. It’s time we readdress this arbitrary and antiquated licensing process to make hydropower production easier and less costly. That’s why last week I introduced the Hydropower Policy Modernization Act of 2017. This legislation modifies the definition of renewable energy to correctly include hydropower, allows the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to extend a preliminary permit for an additional 4 years with the possibility of 8 total years, and directs FERC to move forward on establishing a schedule following the filing of a licensing application. It facilitates the development of small hydropower and conduit projects, using emerging technologies that improve the capture of energy along irrigation canals, municipal water supply conduits, and other infrastructure.
On Wednesday, this bill went before the House Energy and Commerce Committee for consideration, passing by a voice vote. It will now continue its journey through the legislative process. During the committee hearing, I delivered opening remarks on the importance of this legislation to Eastern Washington and the Pacific Northwest. In case you missed it, you can see them here:
As co-chair of the Northwest Energy Caucus, I am proud to help tell the story of hydropower in our region. You can find more information about this legislation, and all of the work I’m doing on hydropower by visiting https://mcmorris.house.gov/hydropower/.
On Wednesday, the Energy and Commerce Committee also considered the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2017. As we continue to advance a bipartisan energy strategy, 35 years after Congress enacted the Nuclear Waste Policy Act and 28 years after the Yucca Mountain site was designated as the location for the first permanent nuclear waste repository—we must remember to continue our support for the responsible environmental cleanup at the Hanford nuclear site.
Still today, more than 2,000 tons of spent nuclear waste and millions of gallons of high-level waste await disposal at the Hanford site, which is why it’s so necessary that we move forward with the Yucca Mountain site so we can properly dispose of the nuclear waste here in Washington, and all across the country, in a responsible manner. I also offered remarks at the hearing of this legislation as well. You can see them here:
Also last week, the Trump administration announced its plan to repeal the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) regulation. This EPA rule is one of the most burdensome to come out of the Obama administration. It’s something I’ve heard about frequently while in Eastern Washington. You think about the impact it’s had on rural communities, on our cattlemen and farmers— it’s making it more and more difficult for hardworking Americans to be successful. I’m pleased to see President Trump moving forward on repealing this rule which targets our rural communities like those here in Eastern Washington.
As we continue to move forward on our aggressive agenda, I want to hear from you. Hearing from all of you makes me a better legislator, and a better representative on your behalf. You can find all of my office contact information here and I encourage you to follow along on Facebook and Twitter for real time updates on the work we are doing to grow our economy, create jobs, fix our broken health care system, and put people back at the center of this government.