Bipartisan Push For Hydro Energy

By Tom Bacon

A couple of clean energy bills pending in the U.S. Senate may let lawmakers escape - at least momentarily - the ideological gridlock in which they're mired.
The bills seek to encourage hydropower development by streamlining federal regulations on smaller dams which could be modified to produce electricity. 

Both measures are now in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee headed by Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat. They came from a unanimous vote in the U.S. House on bills sponsored by eastern Washington Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Republican.

But the two put aside party politics to join up on the hydropower bills. That's partly because energy issues tend to be more geographical than ideological, and partly because Washington and Oregon are the number one and number two producers of hydropower energy.

The measures also have an advantage over other clean energy proposals. The Congressional Budget Office believes neither will have any appreciable effect on the federal budget. But a one-year extension of the wind-energy production tax credit would cost about $12 billion over the next decade.

Wyden said he wants to push the Mcmorris-Rodgers bills out of committee for a floor vote as quickly as possible and then try to defend them against unrelated amendments which could kill them.
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