Two Gosar Bills Pass the House Committee on Natural Resources by a Bipartisan Unanimous Consent

Jul 26, 2017

For Immediate Release

Date: 7/26/2017

Contact: Faith C. Vander Voort

Faith.VanderVoort@mail.house.gov

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Congressman Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (AZ-04), Chairman of the Congressional Western Caucus and the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, released the following statement after two of his energy bills, the Public Land Renewable Energy Development Act (H.R. 825) and the Western Area Power Administration Transparency Act (H.R.2371), passed the House Committee on Natural Resources by a bipartisan vote of unanimous consent.

“I am an ardent supporter of a true all-of-the-above energy policy. The Public Land Renewable Energy Development Act (PLREDA) underscores my commitment to making this a reality. My bill is a bipartisan reform that promotes the smart development of renewable energy by eliminating unnecessary red tape to create a streamlined process that will, in turn, drive investment toward high quality renewable resources,” stated Chairman Paul Gosar. “The revenue sharing mechanism in this bill will help local governments deliver critical services on important projects such as road maintenance, public safety and law enforcement.”

"The Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act offers an innovative approach to advance renewable development while supporting fish and wildlife conservation on our vital public lands, said Steve Moyer, VP of Government Affairs for Trout Unlimited. “It creates a win-win scenario in which states and counties, American energy consumers, and the public lands, all benefit. We thank Representative Gosar for his steadfast leadership on the bill, and we applaud the strong bipartisan list of cosponsors for the bill,” said Moyer.

The second bill to pass the Committee by unanimous consent is Congressman Gosar’s Western Area Power Administration Transparency Act, which requires the administrator of the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) to establish a pilot project to increase transparency of the agency’s costs and rates:

“Customers and Congress have been pushing for years for increased transparency of WAPA’s costs and rates,” said Congressman Gosar. “These reforms are desperately needed as auditors discovered nearly 12,000 questionable purchases totaling nearly $7 million in a two-year period alone. One of the agency’s customers recently told me it’s like WAPA has a credit card without a limit and we can’t see the statement. Customers have gone so far as to offer to pay for the transparency costs sought by this bill as long as they know exactly where their money is being spent. Sunshine on expenditures and increased transparency is good for any federal agency and I am thrilled to see the Western Area Power Administration Transparency Act pass the Committee with unanimous bipartisan support.”

“HR 2371 is the first step to help implement transparency and accountability at WAPA in a manner that will enable Arizona preference power customers to better comprehend WAPA budgeting practices and rate formulation, said John Wallace, CEO of Grand Canyon State Electric Cooperative. “After significant rate increases over the past 5 years, we seek appropriate controls to ensure WAPA expenditures are justified and that our Cooperative ratepayers are treated fairly and are truly receiving the lowest possible electricity available on the market. To that end, we are excited this bipartisan measure has advanced and thankful to be partnering with Congressman Gosar.”

Background:

H.R.825 – The Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act

H.R.825 establishes a revenue sharing mechanism that ensures a fair return for relevant stakeholders, distributes certain revenues derived through this Act by returning 25% to the state where development takes place, 25% to the counties of origin, 15% is directed for the purposes of more efficiently processing permit applications and reducing the backlog of renewable energy permits, and 35% is deposited into a fund for sportsmen and conservation purposes, including increasing access and outdoor recreation like hunting and fishing.

Due to the fact that federal lands are not taxable, state and local governments receive a share of the revenues from the sales of energy production on lands within their borders.

Current Sponsors and Cosponsors of H.R. 825 (37): Gosar*, Polis*, Franks*, Mike Thompson*, Amodei, Biggs, Brown, Cárdenas, Cartwright, Comstock, Cook, Costa, Curbello, DeFazio, DeGette, DelBene, Franks, Grijalva, Hice, Huffman, Kihuen, Labrador, LaMalfa, Lieu, Love, Lowenthal, Ben Ray Luján, McGovern, Pearce, Perlmutter, Polis, Rosen, Schrader, Schweikert, Sinema, Mike Thompson, Tipton, Titus, Tsongas, Valadao.

Endorsements of H.R. 825 include: Western Governors’ Association, National Association of Counties, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, American Fly Fishing Trade Association, American Sportfishing Association, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, Dallas Safari Club, Mule Deer Foundation, National Marine Manufacturers Association, Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, Trout Unlimited and countless other organizations.

Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) introduced S.282 as a Senate companion to this legation.

H.R.2371 - Western Area Power Administration Transparency Act

WAPA is one of four Power Marketing Administrations that delivers hydropower and related services from federal facilities to nearly 700 preference customers that include federal and state agencies, cities, electric cooperatives, tribes, as well as public utility and irrigation districts. Specifically, WAPA markets power from 56 hydropower plants to more than 40,000,000 people in 15 states.

A 2015 GAO study found that WAPA’s unobligated balances exceed the levels it needs to execute its mission. Additionally, questionable and potentially fraudulent spending by WAPA triggered numerous audits by the agency’s Inspector General and made several recent news stories.

In response to calls for increased transparency, WAPA created an online repository with financial information. While this is a step in the right direction, power customers and Members of Congress have been calling for a more detailed understanding of how WAPA is spending its money. The establishment of this pilot program answers that call and could result in significant taxpayer savings.

Specifically, H.R.2371 requires the WAPA Administrator to establish a publicly available website containing:

• Rates charged to customers by power system

• Amount of energy or capacity sold by power system

• For headquarters and by region, a detailed accounting of expenditures, capital costs, and staffing

• Capital expenditures expended including the sources of capital for each investment

Current Sponsors and Cosponsors H.R.2371: Paul Gosar*, Kyrsten Sinema*, Andy Biggs, Trent Franks, Jared Huffman, Doug LaMalfa, Martha McSally, Kristi Noem, Tom O’Halleran and David Schweikert. The full text of the Western Area Power Administration Transparency Act can be found HERE. Senators Flake, McCain and King have introduced companion legislation in the form of S.930.

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