In Reaction to President George Bush’s Promotion of His Energy Plan at Safe Harbor Dam in Pennsylvania
5/17/2001 — —
STATEMENT OF CHARLES GAUVIN PRESIDENT, TROUT UNLIMITED
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE MAY 17, 2001
CONTACT: Charles Gauvin, President, TU 703/ 284-9401
Steve Malloch, Counsel, TU 703/ 284-9415
It is indeed ironic that President Bush chose the Safe Harbor Dam to unveil his energy plan if his proposal to streamline the federal hydro licensing process is anything like the streamlining proposals introduced in the Congress. The Susquehanna River has seen its shad runs reach new highs this year due to the very FERC dam licensing requirements that these so-called streamlining proposals would gut.
While everyone is in favor of improving the efficiency of the process associated with dam relicensing, those improvements should not occur at the expense of fish and wildlife. The current dam licensing system helps to address the problems dams cause for fish and wildlife. It is relatively quick, cost-efficient and results in good decisions when the hydropower owners take a reasonable approach and work to solve reduce these environmental impacts. Trout Unlimited and others have worked with responsible hydropower owners under the existing system and efficiently achieved both river conservation and business goals.
We agree that the relicensing system does not work when the hydro owner takes an adversarial approach, especially in resisting gathering information about the effects of a dam on fish and wildlife. More times than not, the blame for any difficulty in the bureaucratic licensing process lies with hydro owners, not in existing regulations or law.
President Bushs hydropower proposal will do little to affect the nations energy supply. Relicensing existing dams, a once-in-a-generation balancing of electricity with the environment, has resulted in an average decrease in production of only 1.6 percent a few hundredths of one percent of the nations energy supply. A streamlining process that increases profits for hydro producers, sacrifices fish and wildlife, and has negligible energy impacts is hardly an energy plan; it is in fact a plan to trade public fish, wildlife and river health benefits for private hydropower company gain.
If George Bush wants to assure future success stories like those of the Susquehanna River shad, then his streamline proposal for the federal hydro licensing system must continue to protect the nations precious fish and wildlife resources. Continuing to require that hydro owners take steps to protect these resources is a reasonable condition of the relicensing process when you consider that process gives hydro owners exclusive use of a public river for up to fifty years.
Trout Unlimited is North Americas leading coldwater conservation organization, dedicated to the conservation, protection and restoration trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds. The organization has more than 130,000 members in 500 chapters in North America.