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May 16, 2005

Bush's Energy Bill Will Cut Washingtonians Out of Decisions About Our Dams

Correspondent Amy Souers Kober from American Rivers writes:

Of all the provisions of the massive, pork-filled Energy Bill, the section on hydropower has the potential to impact our heavily-dammed state -- and the Northwest at large -- really hard.

So, have you heard of it? Probably not, right?

The little-known "hydropower title" would cut the public and Indian tribes out of important decisions about our rivers, clean water, fish and wildlife. Fishermen, boaters, hikers, farmers, community groups, property owners, and tribes with sovereign treaty rights would essentially be silenced.

Right now, power companies that want to operate hydropower dams on public waterways must first agree to conditions that protect fish, wildlife, recreation, and other public values. The Energy Bill would allow power companies to wriggle out of this responsibility, giving them a new special right to appeal any conditions they don't like - leaving everyone else out of the decision process.

The Energy Bill bill has already passed the House and is being considered this week by the Senate.

In other words, yet another attempt by the Bush Administration to say "screw you" to the public while scratching the back of his energy industry buddies.  Only this one hits even closer to home than usual, and is more deeply buried in the fine print.

Late word is that Senator Cantwell is trying to bring the voice of the public back into the equation.  More information is at http://www.americanrivers.org/hydroreform.

Posted by Jon Stahl on May 16, 2005 at 08:10 PM in Policy | Permalink


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