Group calls hydropower proposal an 'extreme' bill

“This bill would officially recognize hydropower as renewable energy and help eliminate government roadblocks and frivolous litigation that stifle development,” Hastings said in a statement Thursday.

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But American Rivers, an advocacy group, told UPI that Hastings’ bill is “an extreme piece of legislation” that would end environmental protections for areas near hydropower projects. The group said it prefers a different bill introduced last month by Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-Wash.).

The Hastings bill also prohibits federal funding for an Obama administration effort to upgrade electricity systems that mostly serve rural customers. A group of more than 160 lawmakers from both parties in both chambers has written a letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu opposing that initiative, saying it would amount to a top-down policy that raises power prices for rural customers.

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), the group that represents the rural electric utilities affected by that Energy Department endeavor, supports the Hastings bill, NRECA spokeswoman Tracy Warren told E2-Wire on Friday.

— This story was updated at 2:57 p.m.