June 4, 2003
Today (Wednesday) at 12:00 noon, in the Capitol’s Room SC-4, representatives from Native American tribes, citizens groups, sportfishing associations and the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies will join Sens. Jeff Bingaman and Daniel Inouye for a press briefing on the Bingaman-Inouye Hydroelectric Relicensing Amendment. BACKGROUND: S. 14 watchers know that the hydroelectric relicensing provision of the bill (Sec. 511) is flawed, and that Sen. Bingaman, Sen. Inouye and others intend to fix it. First, Sec. 511 is unfair because it cuts tribes, states, consumer groups and other third parties out of relicensing proceedings. Second, new appeal procedures included in S. 14 are likely to result in new delays of three years or more in a process that is already lengthy and complex. Finally, the provision undermines environmental protections by creating a standard that circumvents the discretion of the resource agencies in setting conditions to protect federal and tribal lands and fish resources. Sens. Bingaman and Inouye plan to amend S. 14 with language identical to the provision which passed the House last Congress as part of the omnibus energy legislation, H.R. 4. It was a bi-partisan compromise endorsed by industry, tribes and conservationists. It allows all interested parties to participate equally in the process -- but does so in an even-handed, environmentally protective manner, without resulting in new delays.