the film
Commentaries and editorials

The Next Generation
of Hydropower

by Rep. Dan Newhouse
The Star, July 8, 2020

We should be encouraging innovation and expansion of hydropower
as the United States moves toward a clean energy future.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry, left, toured McNary Dam with Rep. Greg Walden R-Ore. and Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., right, in August. He said he supports using the Snake and Columbia river dams to generate electricity. File Tri-City Herald As I have said in the past and will continue to vocalize in our nation’s capital: Hydropower is truly the lifeblood of the Pacific Northwest. From the Grand Coulee Dam, the largest power producing hydroelectric dam in North America, to the dams along the Columbia and Snake Rivers, Central Washington has come to rely on the clean, affordable, and reliable power these dams produce. We should be encouraging innovation and expansion of hydropower as the United States moves toward a clean energy future.

These critical water infrastructure projects provide countless benefits to our communities, local economies, and robust agriculture industry. I have been proud to defend and fight for our dams in Congress, and I will continue to support advancing hydropower technology.

I recently joined Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) to introduce the Hydropower Clean Energy Future Act, a bill that aims to expand hydropower as a clean and renewable energy source and support innovation for the next generation of hydroelectric technology.

The legislation will update federal renewable purchase requirements to – finally – include hydropower as an essential renewable resource. Additionally, it will modernize the licensing process for hydroelectric projects, expedite licensing for hydropower projects that protect or enhance environmental resources, and requires a report that identifies ways Congress can reduce market barriers to the development of emerging hydropower technologies.

Our local scientists and researchers, including those at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland and others throughout our district, continue to discover new and innovative technologies that increase fish passage and improve the overall operation of our dams. I will continue to encourage and support the scientific research and development that will transform our new and existing hydroelectric dams and structures into the next-generation of hydropower.

I have strongly advocated for the inclusion of water infrastructure – which includes dams – in any comprehensive infrastructure package that comes before Congress. Most recently, I led a bipartisan letter with Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA) urging for water infrastructure to be prioritized. Not only do water infrastructure projects provide clean energy and vital irrigation, but they also spur economic development and create high-quality jobs.

The House recently passed H.R. 2, an infrastructure package that simply did not address the needs of Central Washington. Not only did the legislation not include funding for water infrastructure projects, but it focused far too heavily on urban areas – leaving rural communities like ours in the dust. House Democrats also blocked a bipartisan amendment I introduced with Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Kim Schrier (D-WA) and Denny Heck (D-WA) that would clarify jurisdiction over federal pumped storage project development by ensuring the Bureau of Reclamation has oversight when two or more reservoirs are involved. This amendment would have provided regulatory relief to those building and operating water infrastructure projects throughout the West and beyond. Unfortunately, House Democratic leaders prevented its consideration.

Between the Hydropower Clean Energy Future Act and a strong federal investment in water infrastructure projects across the country, the United States will be well-positioned to produce and support clean and renewable hydropower, bolstering our energy independence and providing reliable and affordable power to American families.

Rep. Dan Newhouse
The Next Generation of Hydropower
The Star, July 8, 2020

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