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Proceedings, Debates of the U.S. Congress
June 26, 2012
112th Congress, 2nd Session
Issue: Vol. 158, No. 97 — Daily Edition
Entire Issue (PDF)
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COLLINSVILLE RENEWABLE ENERGY PROMOTION ACT
(House of Representatives - June 26, 2012)
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[Pages H3985-H3986] COLLINSVILLE RENEWABLE ENERGY PROMOTION ACT Mr. WHITFIELD. Madam Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill (H.R. 5625) to reinstate and transfer certain hydroelectric licenses and extend the deadline for commencement of construction of certain hydroelectric projects. The Clerk read the title of the bill. The text of the bill is as follows: H.R. 5625 Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE. This Act may be cited as the ``Collinsville Renewable Energy Promotion Act''. SEC. 2. REINSTATEMENT OF EXPIRED LICENSES AND EXTENSION OF TIME TO COMMENCE CONSTRUCTION OF PROJECTS. Subject to section 4 of this Act and notwithstanding the time period under section 13 of the Federal Power Act (16 U.S.C. 806) that would otherwise apply to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission projects numbered 10822 and 10823, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (referred to in this Act as the ``Commission'') may-- (1) reinstate the license for either or each of those projects; and (2) extend for 2 years after the date on which either or each project is reinstated under paragraph (1) the time period during which the licensee is required to commence the construction of such projects. Prior to reaching any final decision under this section, the Commission shall provide an opportunity for submission of comments by interested persons, municipalities, and States and shall consider any such comment that is timely submitted. SEC. 3. TRANSFER OF LICENSES TO THE TOWN OF CANTON, CONNECTICUT. Notwithstanding section 8 of the Federal Power Act (16 U.S.C. 801) or any other provision thereof, if the Commission reinstates the license for, and extends the time period during which the licensee is required to commence the construction of, a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission project under section 2, the Commission shall transfer such license to the town of Canton, Connecticut. SEC. 4. ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT. (a) Definition.--For purposes of this section, the term ``environmental assessment'' shall have the same meaning as is given such term in regulations prescribed by the Council on Environmental Quality that implement the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.). (b) Environmental Assessment.--Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Commission shall complete an environmental assessment for Federal Energy Regulatory Commission projects numbered 10822 and 10823, updating, to the extent necessary, the environmental analysis performed during the process of licensing such projects. (c) Comment Period.--Upon issuance of the environmental assessment required under subsection (b), the Commission shall-- (1) initiate a 30-day public comment period; and (2) before taking any action under section 2 or 3-- (A) consider any comments received during such 30-day period; and (B) incorporate in the license for the projects involved, such terms and conditions as the Commission determines to be necessary, based on the environmental assessment performed and comments received under this section. SEC. 5. DEADLINE. Not later than 270 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Commission shall-- (1) make a final decision pursuant to paragraph (1) of section 2; and (2) if the Commission decides to reinstate 1 or both of the licenses under such paragraph and extend the corresponding deadline for commencement of construction under paragraph (2) of such section, complete the action required under section 3. SEC. 6. PROTECTION OF EXISTING RIGHTS. Nothing in this Act shall affect any valid license issued by the Commission under section 4 of the Federal Power Act (16 U.S.C. 797) on or before the date of enactment of this Act or diminish or extinguish any existing rights under any such license. The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from Kentucky (Mr. Whitfield) and the gentleman from Connecticut (Mr. Murphy) each will control 20 minutes. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Kentucky. Mr. WHITFIELD. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume. I rise in support of H.R. 5625, which was introduced by Representative Murphy of Connecticut. This legislation would provide the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission with limited authority to reinstate two terminated hydroelectric licenses and transfer [[Page H3986]] them to a new owner, the town of Canton, Connecticut. The licenses are associated with the Upper and Lower Collinsville dams on the Farmington River in Connecticut. Both projects are under one megawatt each, and I urge all Members to support this legislation, and I reserve the balance of my time. Mr. MURPHY of Connecticut. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume, and I would like to thank the chairman for his assistance and leadership in bringing this bill forward today. This legislation before us, as Chairman Whitfield stated, is pretty simple. It will allow FERC the permissive authority to allow several communities in my district to operate two very small hydroelectric dams as municipal power sources. The Upper and Lower Collinsville dams have been dormant along Connecticut's Farmington River since the 1960s. The licenses that were fairly recently previously issued by FERC to operate both small dams are currently inactive. This legislation would allow FERC the opportunity to reinstate them and transfer them to the town of Canton, Connecticut, for operation. These two small dams are already a beloved and long-standing symbol of the Farmington Valley's rich history. Today, however, we can help make them a symbol of the valley's future as well--retrofitting them to provide clean energy to power thousands of homes and businesses. This legislation was the product of a sustained and collaborative process with State and local stakeholders, FERC, and river protection organizations. The bill provides for an additional comment period on any FERC licensing action, as well as on the licenses' environmental provisions--ensuring that public input is respected and the river's health is protected. While we work to enact policies that will accelerate our transition to energy independence, we shouldn't neglect these smaller projects that can begin that process right here and now, and this bill represents that kind of opportunity. This isn't the first time we've considered this bill in this Chamber. Identical legislation passed the House by voice vote on June 16, 2010. However, the Senate didn't take up the bill that year. As such, I'm hopeful we can muster the same bipartisan spirit today and again pass this noncontroversial energy legislation. Again, I'd like to thank Chairman Whitfield, as well as Chairman Upton and Ranking Members Waxman and Rush and their staffs, for helping bring this legislation to the floor today. We do this institution credit with this kind of bipartisan legislation. Again to the chairman, I appreciate it, and I reserve the balance of my time. Mr. WHITFIELD. Madam Speaker, we have no further speakers, so at this time I would just thank the gentleman from Connecticut for bringing this legislation to our attention. I appreciate his patience. It took us a little while to get it to the floor, but I do urge its passage, and I yield back the balance of my time. Mr. MURPHY of Connecticut. Madam Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time. The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the gentleman from Kentucky (Mr. Whitfield) that the House suspend the rules and pass the bill, H.R. 5625. The question was taken; and (two-thirds being in the affirmative) the rules were suspended and the bill was passed. A motion to reconsider was laid on the table. ____________________