Thank you for publishing the Monday letter regarding Snohomish County PUD’s support of bill H.R. 8. PUD support of H.R. 8 conflicts with its long history of environmental leadership. It also conflicts with the PUD Commission’s May 24 public declaration: “It’s time for a new analysis of Sunset Falls,” based on reduced demand due to aggressive conservation efforts.
H.R. 8, the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act, would give the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission sweeping new abilities to sideline tribes, states and natural resource agencies, preventing them from using the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and other laws to protect fish, wildlife, recreation, public lands, and other public resources.
Hydropower dam relicensing only happens every 30 to 50 years. Many dams in the United States were built before laws such as the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act were enacted. Under current law, those dams have to meet modern water quality and environmental protection standards when they are relicensed. H.R. 8 would allow dam operators to shirk much of their responsibility for improvements to protect fish, wildlife, water quality, public lands, fire safety, outdoor recreation, and more.
States, tribes and federal resource agencies rely on these statutory authorities to address the impacts of hydropower projects on the resources they are charged with managing. If H.R. 8 is enacted into law, FERC will be able to dramatically limit the authorities that states, tribes, and natural resource agencies use to protect the environment and the public.