Press Release

#SubEnergy Holds Hearing on Improving the Hydropower Licensing Process



The Subcommittee on Energy, chaired by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), held a hearing today to review progress toward improving interagency coordination for the timely processing of environmental reviews and authorizations for non-federal hydropower projects.


“We cannot allow important infrastructure such as hydropower projects to fall victim to an endless bureaucratic process – it’s simply not fair,” said #SubEnergy Chairman Fred Upton.

“Hydropower is the nation’s largest source of clean, domestic, renewable electricity. Unfortunately, the lengthy and unpredictable project licensing process disadvantages hydropower when compared to fossil fuel generation and other renewables, such as wind and solar,” said Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR).


  • Ryan Fisher, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army, Civil Works, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Opening Statement)
  • John Goodin, Acting Director, Office of Wetlands, Ocean, and Watersheds, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Opening Statement)
  • Chris Oliver, Assistant Administrator, Fisheries, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Opening Statement)
  • Greg Sheehan, Principal Deputy Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Opening Statement)
  • Terry Turpin, Director, Office of Energy Projects, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Opening Statement)


“Unless Congress sets hard deadlines the reality is this is probably not going to change in a substantial way. … I introduced, and the House passed unanimously H.R. 2872, the Promoting Hydropower Development at Existing Nonpowered Dams Act, which would instruct FERC to issue a rule establishing an expedited licensing process for qualifying facilities that will result in a final decision on the application within two years or less, which is a hard deadline.”Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN)


“[Hydropower’s] renewable, reliable, and it’s essential to our energy supply in the Northwest. Hydropower can be expanded nationwide by modernizing the inefficient permitting process. According to a recent report that was actually from the previous Administration, only three percent of the dams actually produce hydroelectricity and we could double hydropower in America by simply investing in the turbines that are needed to convert dams into hydroelectric dams. On average it takes 18 months to license a natural gas facility. It takes 10 years to relicense a hydropower facility. We can do better.” – Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)


“Our committee has listened to testimony from companies that express concern over the predictability of the permitting process when adding hydropower to a federal dam. For instance, we’ve heard the Corps might provide a different water quality standard than FERC late in the permitting process, which can significantly affect the financial viability of a hydro project.”Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH)




The Majority Memorandum, witness testimony, and an archived webcast are available online HERE.  


Energy (115th Congress)
Press Release