Lankford Challenges Burdensome Regulations on Hydropower

CLICK HERE to watch Lankford’s remarks on YouTube.

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) participated in a Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing today focused on hydropower, which Oklahoma has 10 hydropower facilities. Lankford focused on the challenges with permitting and the relicensing process. Lankford noted that it takes longer to relicense hydropower facilities than to relicense a nuclear power plant. 

Lankford questioned Mr. Malcolm Woolf, President and CEO of the National Hydropower Association during the hearing.  


Lankford: You know there are obvious issues on this as well, Oklahoma has 10 hydro facilities in Oklahoma, that’s a small dot of what you have in the Northwest for hydro facilities, but we use Hydro as well and it’s been a good source of power but our challenge has been the relicensing process. Actually, we have some of our facilities that took five years from when they first dreamed of doing it to when they were done with construction. Those same facilities are now going through relicensing, it’s eight years just to be able to relicense a facility that only took five years to build at the very beginning of it, so there’s been some real challenges. And some of that has been agencies don’t follow FERC’s guidelines, and it’s one of the areas I want to be able to ask Mr. Woolf about as well, is that FERC will set a guideline of when agencies have to give a response and agencies say we’ll give you a response when we feel like it and are not following through on those timelines. So giving agencies a set structure of when they have to actually respond would also be helpful, I think.

Lankford: Mr. Woolf, it is now longer to be able to relicense a Hydro facility than it is a nuclear facility, to be able to relicense it. It’s grown to be absurd in the process. What are the big rocks that you would look at that’s really driving this lengthy process for relicensing?

Mr. Woolf: I think there are two big problems, one of which you just mentioned, which is there’s no process discipline. State and natural resource agencies and tribes have critical roles, but if they don’t abide by the congressional deadlines, there’s no consequence and they can’t do anything about it. There’s no, you can’t play football is everyone’s a quarterback. The second challenge is that some of these resource agencies are going far beyond projects effects. It’s absolutely legitimate to acquire a facility to address the effects of the facility. But, see, this is the only mechanism they have to address unrelated issues. And over the decades it has gone to absurd lengths.