This week, a bipartisan bill passed the U.S. Senate that would encourage the construction of "hydrokinetic" and marine energy projects--hydropower generation plants that produce energy using waves, currents and tides without the need for a dam.
"Seventy percent of the planet is covered with water, so the potential to generate clean, carbon-free electricity using marine and hydrokinetic energy is endless," said U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska. She, along with U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, and Oregon Democrat, introduced the bill, and it passed the body by unanimous consent, just in time for Congress' annual August recess.
Here at TU, we're obviously very leery of the term "hydropower," given the sketchy history such power project have all across the country when it comes to fish passage and habitat loss. But this is a bill we can get behind--producing clean energy without the need for dams to block rivers and bisect fish habitat makes good sense.
It's also heartening to see senators from both parties coming together on a bill that provides needed environmental balance with the prospect of clean energy. It's a win-win, for sure.
Presently, there are no such projects in the U.S., and it will be a while before such commercial-grade projects come online. But the Senate, by approving this measure, is sending a message to the hydropower industry that we at TU hope is heard loud and clear--dams aren't the answer. The future for hydropower lies within the context for this bill.