Three pieces of legislation that could significantly improve the landscape for American hydroelectric power development took another step forward earlier this week by appearing before the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Included on the committee's April 23 agenda were the Hydropower Improvement Act of 2013 (Senate Bill 545), Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013 (House Resolution 267), and the Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development Act (H.R. 678, S. 306).
"I've long been a strong hydropower proponent," said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who introduced S. 545 and serves as the committee's ranking member. "I consider hydropower to be our hardest working renewable resource and one that often gets overlooked in the clean energy debate. To me there is no question that our largest source of renewable electricity is, and must continue to be, part of our energy solution."
Murkowski's sentiments were echoed by fellow committee member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who repeated a phrase he introduced the day before during the opening session of the National Hydropower Association's Annual Conference.
"Hydro is back," Wyden said. "The fact that four of the first five energy bills considered by the committee this year promote hydropower shows how important this resource can be to a clean energy future."
Each of the bills has already received strong bipartisan support, and if Tuesday's committee meeting is any indication, the full Senate appears ready to act quickly in pushing the package to President Barack Obama's desk.
"It is my hope that we can move these bills quickly through the committee and the full Senate so we can provide the President with the opportunity to sign meaningful energy legislation into law," Murkowski said.
An archived broadcast of the hearing can be viewed in its entirety on the committee's website here.