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Tipton Votes to Advance Water Storage, Hydropower, and Forest and Utility Management Bills to House Floor

April 27, 2017
Press Release


During a markup in the House Committee on Natural Resources Thursday, Congressman Scott Tipton (CO-03) voted to advance bills focused on water storage, hydropower production, and forest and utility management to the House floor.

Among the 13 bills the committee approved were the Water Supply Permitting Coordination Act (H.R. 1654), Bureau of Reclamation Pumped Storage Hydropower Development Act (H.R. 1967), and the Electricity Reliability Forest Protection Act (H.R. 1873).

H.R. 1654 charges the Bureau of Reclamation as the lead agency for coordinating all reviews, analysis, and permitting of non-federal surface water storage facilities. Tipton praised the bill, saying it will help streamline the process for construction of non-federal surface water storage.

“The regulations required to construct new surface water storage involve multiple agencies at multiple levels of government, which wastes time, money and ultimately hurts the communities that stand to benefit from the projects,” Tipton said. “Water is our most essential resource in the West, and we must have the infrastructure in place to store it.”

In recent years, confusion over which federal entity overseas pumped storage hydropower development at Bureau of Reclamation Reservoirs has dissuaded non-federal entities from entering “lease of power privilege” (LOPP) agreements. The LOPP process allows non-federal entities to produce hydropower at Bureau of Reclamation facilities in exchange for a fee paid to the bureau. H.R. 1976 clarifies that the Bureau of Reclamation is the lead agency overseeing pumped storage hydropower development at Bureau of Reclamation reservoirs.

Tipton’s bill to expand the production of hydropower was signed into law in the 113th Congress. He praised H.R. 1976 as another step in the right direction.

He said, “The West has vast natural resources, and we must look to sources like hydropower as we advance an all-of-the-above approach to energy production. Bringing more clarity to the LOPP process is essential to building hydropower capabilities.”

The Electricity Reliability Forest Protection Act (H.R. 1873) takes steps to prevent wildfires and strengthen the U.S. electric grid by promoting consistency and accountability when it comes to forest maintenance that could impact electricity transmission and public safety. There are nearly 90,000 miles of electric transmission and distribution lines on Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands. In 2013, the Forest Service reported 113 wildfires resulting from contact between power lines and trees on its land.

“On many occasions, utility companies have warned the Forest Service or BLM of overgrown trees and brush that pose a threat to power lines, but their requests for maintenance have either been denied or put on the backburner. In some cases, trees in these very areas have fallen on power lines and sparked wildfires,” Tipton added. “Despite warning the agency of this hazard, the utility company has been left to cover the cost of firefighting and other recovery efforts.”

H.R. 1873 ensures that a utility company is not liable if a wildfire or other damage occurs due to the federal government’s failure to take action after being alerted to a vegetation hazard.