Congressman Gosar Floor Speech: The Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act of 2012 (H.R. 2842)

Issues: Energy, Public Lands and Water


Congressman Paul A. Gosar D.D.S (AZ-1)

Thank you Chairman Hastings.  I rise in support of the bill Congressman Tipton and I have worked closely on, H.R. 2842, the Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act of 2012. 

Arizona has been hit hard by the recent recession.  The rural counties I represent are faced with unemployment rates that far exceed the national average.  This bill could provide a little of the much needed relief for these communities.

The Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act of 2012 is common-sense legislation that will create jobs in rural Arizona, increase our country’s renewable energy portfolio, and generate revenues for the federal treasury by cutting duplicative, bureaucratic red tape.

Specifically, it would allow Arizonans that operate existing irrigation canals and ditch systems--man-made canals and pipes-- to install hydropower generators. To be clear: we are not talking about free-flowing rivers or streams.  These are man-made structures that have already gone through environmental review.  These canals do not contain endangered fish or wildlife.

I worked very closely with the Irrigation & Electrical Districts Association of Arizona--the special districts, municipalities, Indian utility authorities, and project managers that are engaged in the management and delivery of water and power in my state--as Congressman Tipton and I crafted this legislation. 

I am proud to be from a state as innovative and resourceful as Arizona.  Our state is a leader in developing safe ways to tap into our natural resources which provides much needed energy and jobs. 

Unfortunately, due to federal constraints Arizona is unable to fully tap its hydroelectric power generation potential because of duplicative regulations which make it too expensive and burdensome to develop. 

It is simply the failure of federal policies to facilitate an environment that is conducive to this type of development.  Instead of working with communities that share common goals and values, the federal government is dictating to them. 

The experts on the ground in Arizona say we are literally sitting on a hydropower gold mine waiting for the needed clarifications and streamlining that will cut costs and make this program more attractive.  This bill does just that. 

For example –

The Maricopa-Stanfield Irrigation & Drainage District--located in Pinal County, Arizona--estimates it has the capacity to build 14 to 17 hydropower units if this legislation is signed into law.  Those units could generate a total of approximately 2200 kilowatts of renewable energy, which is enough electricity to power 550 to 1000 homes. 

That is just one of the power managers in my state.  Another district, the Central Irrigation and Drainage District--centered in Eloy, Arizona--has indicated they could install 8-10 hydropower units with a capacity of 1200-1500 kilowatts of renewable energy--another 500 or so homes.  These economic impacts are not small for these rural communities.  They would provide a real economic boost and will reduce consumer energy costs. 

There is not one solution to our nation’s energy crisis, but hydropower is clearly part of an overall all options on the table solutionHydropower is the highest source of non-carbon emitting energy in the world.  It accounts for approximately 75 percent of the United States’ total renewable electricity generation and we are not even tapping the potential.  Investing in hydropower infrastructure will strengthen our economy and help move us toward energy independence.

To top it off, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates our bill will generate $5 million in federal revenue over the next ten years.  Increased revenues from the sale of this renewable energy can result in a new source of funding for operating, maintaining, and rehabilitating our aging water delivery infrastructure at lower costs to farmers.

This legislation is truly a win-win for the American people and is exactly the type of legislation this House should be passing. 

Vote yes on this bill, authored by Congressman Tipton and me, the Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act of 2012.  It will create jobs in rural America, increase U.S. energy independence, and raise revenue for the U.S. Treasury. 

I yield back my time.