Action on Capitol Hill might have slowed during the period preceding November's presidential election, but the National Hydropower Association is using the October recess to push a trio of bills that would benefit the hydroelectric industry.
The three pieces of legislation caught in the limbo of lame duck season include the Hydropower Improvement Act of 2011, the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2012, and the Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act of 2012.
The Hydropower Improvement Act of 2011, introduced by Sen. Lisa Murkoski (R-Alaska) and eight bi-partisan co-sponsors in March 2011, passed a Senate committee by a voice vote more than a year ago, but has been stuck on the Senate floor calendar.
Meanwhile, the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2012 -- officially known as H.R. 5892 -- passed the U.S. House of Representatives with a unanimous 372-0 vote in July, and the Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act of 2012 (H.R. 2842) appeared before the Senate's Committee on Energy and Natural Resources in September.
NHA says it has urged members on both sides of the aisle to move the bills during the lame duck period, and though there seems to be substantive, bipartisan support for the bills, the stagnation is causing some to consider shelving them until a new Congress assembles in January.
Both Murkowski and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) have said they believe the new Congress could move the bills quickly, NHA is hopeful the Senate will act on them now as a delay into the next session would essentially mean starting the legislative process again.
As such, NHA is encouraging members of the hydropower industry to voice their opinions over the next weeks by urging their Senators to pass the hydro bills this year.
NHA has already urged the hydroelectric community to express hydropower's importance to President Barack Obama and candidate Mitt Romney, and the organization has also prepared a letter that can be sent electronically to Senators via the NHA's Legislative Action Center.