WASHINGTON, DC — U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) today introduced the Promoting Hydropower Development & Jobs Act, new legislation to streamline permitting for hydropower projects and create more jobs for local communities across the country.  This bill will promote hydropower development at existing non-powered dams by establishing an expedited licensing process that will result in a decision on an application in two years or less. The bill also would require the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Department of the Interior to develop a list of existing non-powered federal dams that have the greatest potential for non-federal hydropower development.  Currently, there are more than 50,000 suitable non-powered dams across the country that collectively have the technical potential to add 12 gigawatts of hydropower capacity, enough power to illuminate 1.2 trillion LED lightbulbs. 

“This bill will promote clean energy and create more jobs,” Portman stated“It makes sense to streamline the permitting process for hydropower on dams that already exist, especially given that the new facilities will have a minimal environmental impact.  In Ohio alone, there are 44 suitable dams that potentially could benefit from this bipartisan bill.”

While it may not be the flashiest of efforts—real commonsense permitting reform has a huge impact on increasing and speeding up much-needed infrastructure investment across the country,” McCaskill said. By streamlining hydropower projects and highlighting projects that are ripe for investment, we will create clean energy and good jobs.

NOTE: In 2015, Senators Portman and McCaskill co-authored the Federal Permitting Improvement Act, which Congress ultimately enacted into law as Title 41 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. That law, now known as FAST-41, helps to streamline the federal infrastructure permitting process to boost our economy and create jobs. Most significantly, it created the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council (Permitting Council), which brings together agencies at the start of the permitting process for some of the largest, most complicated infrastructure projects (covered projects) to write out a comprehensive plan for the permitting process across agencies.  The public can track the permitting progress for each of those projects at www.permits.performance.gov.  And for covered projects, FAST-41 reduces the statute of limitations for National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) challenges from six years to two.  Since FAST-41 became law, the Permitting Council has helped more than 40 projects with their permitting processes, saved several projects millions of dollars, and resolved numerous interagency conflicts.  

The full text of the bill can be found here.

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