What do groups from Alaska to Florida, from Maine to California, from Alabama Rivers Alliance to Zoar Outdoors, from the Penobscot Paddle and Chowder Society to the League of Conservation Voters all agree on? That the hydropower industry is dead wrong about their bill, H.R. 8.
All of these groups agree: The hydropower industry’s bill is “an unprecedented assault on our nation’s rivers and the people and wildlife that depend upon them.”
The industry’s trade association, the National Hydropower Association (NHA) has said that their bill protects “environmental values.” I don’t know what their environmental values are, but I do know this: when it comes to protecting the environment, I trust groups whose interests are in protecting the environment, not power companies whose interests are in protecting their profit margins. And those groups say this: H.R. 8 “is a massive giveaway to special interests at the expense of healthy rivers and the fish, wildlife, and people that depend upon them. If H.R. 8 passes, power company profits will go to the head of the line, ahead of every other user.”
NHA also says that their bill protects the States’ authority under the Clean Water Act to protect rivers within their borders. But the State of California disagrees: “H.R. 8 would seriously impact and in some cases eliminate the mandatory conditioning authority of the State Water Board under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act.” The State goes on to say that NHA’s bill would “result in harm to California’s water quality and associated beneficial uses, public lands, and fish and wildlife by removing key state and federal authorities designed to protect the environment.”
Big corporations say their bill is good for the environment. Environmental groups say it is terrible for the environment.
Power companies say their bill protects States. States say it takes away their authority to protect State waters and State citizens.
Massive coal-fired utilities like Duke and Southern Company say that we can’t fight climate change unless we reduce environmental protections at hydropower dams. But groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, and Environment America, which have been on the front lines fighting against carbon pollution for years agree: “If you care about clean water, irrigation, meeting tribal treaty and trust obligations, wildlife, recreational fishing, commercial fishing, whitewater boating, water quality, municipal water supply, fire safety, flood control, or any other purpose other than generating power, then you should vote NO on H.R. 8.”
Who do you trust?