McMorris Rodgers Introduces Legislation to Shed Light on ESA Compliance Costs

Jun 02, 2011
Clean Energy

Bill Will Lead to Better Decision-Making on Hydropower

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), along with nine original cosponsors including Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA), Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, introduced H.R. 1719, The Endangered Species Compliance and Transparency Act this week. This bill would require Power Marketing Administrations, including the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), to separate out and report the costs associated with The Endangered Species Act (ESA) to each customer.

“In Eastern Washington – and throughout America – the benefits of hydropower aren’t being fully tapped because of billions of dollars in excessive regulatory costs to mitigate unproven environmental effects,” said Rep. McMorris Rodgers. “In the Pacific Northwest, for example, 30 percent of wholesale power rates go to compliance programs for endangered salmon. Despite the growing costs, many consumers don’t know how much they’re paying for salmon protection, or whether they’re paying at all. They have a right to know how their money is being spent. That’s why I’ve introduced The Endangered Species Compliance and Transparency Act. By empowering consumers with critical information, my bill will contribute to better decision-making about the use of hydropower and make hydropower move available to meet our economy’s growing energy needs.”

Rep. McMorris Rodgers, founder of the Congressional Hydropower Caucus, is a strong champion for this valuable energy resource. Hydropower is a clean, renewable source of energy that provides low-cost electricity and helps reduce carbon emissions. In addition, multi-purpose dams provide water for irrigation, wildlife, recreation and barge transportation and offer flood control benefits.

A court-mandated spill in 2004 helped make BPA the federal agency with the highest ESA compliance costs in the nation. BPA estimates that they have spent approximately $500 million annually on ESA-related compliance costs in recent years. By law, the agency passes on all of these costs to its wholesale customers. A 2005 poll found that 70 percent of customers either didn’t know how much they paid for salmon recovery or believe that recovery accounted for less than 5 percent of their monthly bills.

Rep. McMorris Rodgers introduced The Endangered Species Compliance and Transparency Act in the 110th and 111th Congresses, but it did not become law.

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