As one of 24 Republican conferees appointed by the Speaker to draft the most comprehensive bipartisan energy bill to be considered in nearly ten years, Rep. McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) spoke Thursday, Sept. 8, 2016 at the House and Senate conference committee meeting on the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016 (S. 2012).
Below are Rep. McMorris Rodgers’ remarks as prepared for delivery.
Rep. McMorris Rodgers speaks at at the House and Senate conference committee meeting on the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016 (S. 2012).
Background: Rep. McMorris Rodgers is a leader for the House on hydropower and forestry management, and her powerful position on the energy bill conference committee gives her the ability to put issues specific to Washington state at the forefront. She has long been a leader on renewable and reliable energy, and in 2008 she founded the Congressional Hydropower Caucus to promote the benefits of hydropower as a clean, renewable, reliable, and affordable energy source. This energy bill includes provisions authored by Rep. McMorris Rodgers on both hydropower and forestry issues. She introduced the hydropower language as a bipartisan amendment in Committee, with a specific focus on important provisions that streamline and modernize the hydropower relicensing process–which averages ten years in length–to substantially lower costs while providing certainty for the industry. Rep. McMorris Rodgers’ language allows for increased collaboration and transparency by gathering the stakeholders at the start of the relicensing process to provide their expertise to maintain the surrounding ecosystem’s environmental integrity. Additionally, Rep. McMorris Rodgers has long led Congress on forest management issues and introduced the first forestry reform bill this Congress, of which many of her ideas were incorporated in the Resilient Federal Forests Act. Her proposals would help prevent catastrophic wildfire, effectively fight fires when they happen, improve forest health, and bring jobs to rural communities.
Rep. McMorris Rodgers’ remarks as prepared for delivery:
I want to thank Chairman Upton for the chance to serve as a conferee and for his tireless effort on this energy package, which modernizes, protects and strengthens our nation’s energy security and abundance.
Eastern Washington is blessed with tremendous energy resources, including two of the greatest clean energy resources: hydropower and carbon neutral biomass.
Hydropower resources provide more than six percent of all electricity generated in the U.S. and nearly 50 percent of all renewable electricity.
I was proud to champion a bipartisan amendment to H.R. 8 promoting hydropower through a new expedited licensing process. The amendment was the result of extensive consultations with stakeholders and members.
Moreover, we can double production and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs without building a single new dam, simply by updating the technology in our existing infrastructure.
But FERC doesn’t incentivize investing in dams. Capital intensive projects like updating turbines or improving fish ladders are only included in the lifespan of a dam’s license during the relicensing window.
Included in the legislation we are considering is an early action provision requiring FERC to include all protection, mitigation, and enhancement measures during the relicensing process.
As I was home in Eastern Washington, I witnessed the Yale Road and Wellesley fires devastate our communities.
The energy package also includes the bipartisan Resilient Federal Forests Act, which contains my language providing the forest service additional tools to manage our forests and fixes fire borrowing.
I want to make it clear that members on both sides of the aisle with large federal forests supported this legislation. This package is the second time this Congress a bipartisan forest bill passed the House before fire season.
Forest fires are a natural disaster but with the right tools, the U.S. Forest Service can mitigate their impact. It is time to act.
I am proud to have led the hydropower and forestry reforms included in the House version of this bill. I believe they must remain strong components in the final version, and encourage my colleagues to support their inclusion.