WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Energy, chaired by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), today held a legislative hearing examining 10 bills to promote and modernize the nation’s hydropower and pipeline infrastructure.
The bills #SubEnergy examined today were informed through previous hearings in which the subcommittee reviewed the federal licensing process and recommendations to improve coordination between government agencies, promote new infrastructure, and ensure consumers have access to affordable, reliable electricity generated from hydropower. The subcommittee also held a hearing in February examining the state of America’s evolving energy infrastructure and barriers to innovation, modernization, job creation, and economic growth.
The subcommittee examined the following bills at today’s hearing.
- Discussion Draft, “Hydropower Policy Modernization Act of 2017”
- Discussion Draft, “Promoting Hydropower Development at Existing Non-Powered Dams Act”
- Discussion Draft, “Promoting Closed Loop Pumped Storage Hydropower Act”
- Discussion Draft, “Promoting Small Conduit Hydropower Facilities Act of 2017”
- H.R. 1538, “Supporting Home Owners Rights Enforcement Act”
- H.R. 446, “To extend the deadline for commencement of construction of a hydroelectric project”
- H.R. 447, “To extend the deadline for commencement of construction of a hydroelectric project”
- H.R. 2122, “To reinstate and extend the deadline for commencement of construction of a hydroelectric project”
- Discussion Draft, “Promoting Interagency Coordination for Review of Natural Gas Pipelines Act”
- Discussion Draft, “Promoting Cross-Border Energy Infrastructure Act”
Witnesses deliver their opening statements
Jeffrey Soth, Legislative and Political Director at the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), discussed IUOE’s support of the committee’s efforts to improve pipeline permitting and siting, stating, “Regulatory uncertainty and procedural delays during environmental reviews have hindered the growth of jobs related to the pipeline industry. There needs to be an updated, streamlined permitting and regulatory framework ensuring that domestic oil and gas industry flourishes in a safe predictable way…The IUOE supports the ‘Cross-Border Energy Infrastructure Act’ and the ‘Promoting Interagency Coordination for Review of Natural Gas Pipelines Act’.”
Andrew Black, President and CEO of the Association of Oil Pipelines, discussed his support of the cross-border discussion draft, commenting, “Key to meaningful reform are the discussion draft provisions to: 1) provide a statutory time limit for permit review after any applicable environmental reviews are complete, 2) a presumption of approval reflecting the benefit of reducing dependence on unstable and overseas energy suppliers, 3) limit the border crossing permit scope of review to border crossing issues and impacts, and 4) exemption modifications to existing cross-border facilities because they have no impact on the environment at the border crossing.”
Jeffrey Leahey, Deputy Executive Director at the National Hydropower Association, talked about the importance of hydropower as Congress works on modernizing the nation’s energy infrastructure and drafting legislation, stating, “Both the existing system and new hydropower projects have a critical role to play in meeting our nation’s energy, environment, and economic development objectives and much is at stake for hydropower and the families, businesses, and communities that rely on its low-cost, reliable, renewable generation. … A greater recognition that our hydropower infrastructure is incredibly valuable is needed, and continued investment and re-investment in the system is critical to our energy future and national security.”
Donald Santa, President and CEO of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, talked to the importance a quorum being restored at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to speed the up the pipeline approval process, commenting “Allow me to emphasize that a critical element to the timely approval of pipeline infrastructure will be restoring the quorum at the FERC. This is a place where your input with the president and your colleagues in the Senate can do great good. I appreciate the leadership of members of the Committee on Energy and Commerce in urging nomination of candidates as members of the FERC and encourage you to continue doing so.”
Rep. Olson listening to witness testimony
“We began this Congress by picking up where we left off last year, with hearings on the challenges we face to expand hydro and pipeline infrastructure. We’ve heard from job creators, contractors, labor, tribal interest, consumers and private citizens,” said Energy Subcommittee Vice Chairman Pete Olson (R-TX). “As we move forward we will continue to work with states and other federal agencies that have a role to ensure that we balance the need to modernize our infrastructure with important safety, environmental, and consumer protections. Together, these 10 bills represent the beginning of an effort to modernize our energy infrastructure, improve access to affordable and reliable energy, and lower prices for consumers.”
A background memo, witness testimony, and an archived webcast can be found online HERE.