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Advocates question GOP hydropower bill

Aug. 3, 2012 at 7:26 AM

WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 (UPI) -- U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings said his hydropower bill would cut through red tape but an advocacy group said the "bill is an extreme piece of legislation."

Hastings, R-Wash. and chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, introduced a measure that he said would generate private funding for hydropower development and eliminate practices that diminish existing hydropower capacity.

"This bill would officially recognize hydropower as renewable energy and help eliminate government roadblocks and frivolous litigation that stifle development," he said in a statement.

His bill would prohibit federal funding for dam removal. It would also prohibit regulators from bypassing hydropower turbines in the event of a drought and calls for estimates of associated costs related to federal fish and wildlife acts.

Michael Garrity, Washington state conservation director for advocacy group American Rivers, said, in a statement to United Press International, that Hastings' bill would cut funding for river restoration programs.

"Chairman Hastings' bill is an extreme piece of legislation that claims to promote hydropower but would in fact eviscerate bedrock environmental protections that balance hydropower production and environmental protection, as well as mainstream river restoration tools used throughout the nation," he said.

Garrity said a compromise bill introduced last month by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., would encourage an expansion of hydropower while keeping environmental protection measures in place.

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