From The Pueblo Chieftain (Peter Roper):
The measure was approved on a vote of 265-154. Tipton said the legislation streamlines the regulatory process to allow small hydropower projects on existing Bureau of Reclamation canals and pipelines. Those waterways and pipes have already gone through environmental review. “This bill makes significant strides in encouraging the development of clean, renewable hydropower and getting people back to work in some of America’s hardest-hit rural communities,” Tipton said in a statement after the vote.
Officials from the federal bureau opposed the legislation, which would exempt small hydropower projects of less than 1.5 megawatts from federal environmental review regulations.
More coverage from Kelcie Pegher writing for the Cortez Journal. From the article:
The bill was sponsored U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, a Republican from Cortez, in order to streamline regulations for small hydropower projects that have been approved by the Bureau of Reclamation. The Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act passed with unanimous Republican support and 28 votes from Democrats. Almost the entire Colorado delegation voted for the bill, with the exception of U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, a Democrat.
U.S. Rep. Grace Napolitano, D-Calif., unsuccessfully tried to amend the bill to remove language that exempted the projects from review under the National Environmental Policy Act. “While I support the goal of increasing hydropower, this bill goes a step too far by granting a blanket exemption from critical environmental laws,” Napolitano said in a statement.
Tipton disagreed, saying small water projects such as canals have already passed regulation within the Bureau of Reclamation. “This is just bringing common sense to policy. We aren’t eliminating anything in terms of being able to protect the environment because it was already studied,” he said in an interview…
Several organizations endorsed the bill, including the Family Farm Alliance, the National Water Resources Association and the Association of California Water Agencies.
The bill will next go to the Senate, where it is likely to have a tougher time.