American Rivers, the National Wildlife Federation and Trout Unlimited are among the organizations that could be cut off from federal grant funding under the bill; each has been party to a suit potentially challenging hydropower generation, and each has received federal money.
“We’re very concerned about it,” said Steve Moyer, Trout Unlimited’s vice president for government affairs.
It’s all a reminder that hydropower, however fresh it sounds, can generate political heat as well as occasional cooperation.
In June, for instance, a sharply divided House passed a bill by Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., that would permit California’s Merced Irrigation District to raise the spillways on the district’s New Exchequer Dam. That would increase power production and water storage, but it also would temporarily inundate part of a protected Wild and Scenic River. The Obama administration opposes the Denham bill, which faces an uncertain future in the Senate.
Hydropower rhetoric, too, can get heavy. At a hydropower hearing last year, Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., the chairman of the House Water and Power Subcommittee, denounced American Rivers, which advocates for protecting river habitat nationwide, as an “extremist organization.”