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Sali Wins Support for Hydropower

by Staff
Idaho Press-Tribune, August 5, 2006

Although Idaho lawmaker opposes energy bill,
he's successful in winning amendment's passage

BOISE - U.S. Rep. Bill Sali easily won approval of an amendment in support of hydropower as the nation looks for new sources of energy during House action Saturday.

The House voted 402-9 in favor of Sali's proposal.

Sali's amendment to a House Democrat energy bill calls for the development of clean, consistent, pollution-free large and small scale hydropower. Without Sali's amendment, his office said, the legislation made no reference to hydropower. "If we are going to discuss renewable energy, then we need to include hydropower," Sali told fellow representatives. "Hydropower for America means no greenhouse gas emissions. Hydropower offsets more carbon emissions than all other renewable energy resources combined."

In a statement issued Saturday, Sali said Americans avoided around 160 million tons of carbon emissions by using hydropower. More than 60 percent of power in the Pacific Northwest comes from hydroelectric generation, and dams on the Snake River are the leading source of electricity for Idaho Power Co.

Sali's amendment is part of a broad-based energy bill that cleared the House on Saturday, even though he and U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson both voted against the full bill. Sali said he voted against the full bill because, apart from his amendment, it does nothing to encourage development of new energy sources.

"Our country is becoming more and more dependent on foreign oil," he said. "It is a national security nightmare in the making. It is an economic disaster in the making, and the so-called energy bill passed by the House does nothing to resolve the looming energy crisis."

The hydropower amendment is the second proposal Sali has offered in support of hydropower in the Pacific Northwest. Last month, Sali introduced a resolution in support of the dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers.

WASHINGTON - Declaring a new direction in energy policy, the House on Saturday approved $16 billion in taxes on oil companies, while providing billions of dollars in tax breaks and incentives for renewable energy and conservation efforts.

Republican opponents said the legislation ignored the need to produce more domestic oil, natural gas and coal.

The House passed the tax provisions by a vote of 221-189. Earlier it had approved, 241-172, a companion energy package aimed at boosting energy efficiency and expanding use of biofuels, wind power and other renewable energy sources. The two bills, passed at an unusual Saturday session as lawmakers prepared to leave town for their monthlong summer recess, will be merged with legislation passed by the Senate in June.

On one of the most contentious and heavily lobbied issues, the House voted to require investor-owned electric utilities nationwide to generate at least 15 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources such as wind or biofuels.

The bill also calls for more stringent energy efficiency standards for appliances and lighting and incentives for building more energy-efficient "green" buildings. It would authorize special bonds for cities and counties to reduce energy demand. Democrats avoided a nasty fight by ignoring - at least for the time being - calls for automakers to make vehicles more fuel-efficient. Cars, sport utility vehicles and small trucks use most of the country's oil and produce almost one-third of the carbon dioxide emissions.

That issue, as well as whether to require huge increases in the use of corn-based ethanol as a substitute for gasoline, were left to be thrashed out when the House bill is merged with energy legislation the Senate passed in June.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said he was confident the final bill that will go to President Bush will contain an increase in automobile fuel economy requirements. The White House indicated President Bush might veto the bill if he gets it saying it makes "no serious attempts to increase our energy security or address high energy costs" and would harm domestic oil and gas production.

The House-passed bill also includes an array of loan guarantees, federal grants and tax breaks for alternative energy programs.

Sali Wins Support for Hydropower
Idaho Press-Tribune, August 5, 2006

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