House Unanimously Passes Babin Amendment to Study and Reform Hydropower Dam Licenses in Southeast Texas
Washington, DC – On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed an amendment offered by Rep. Brian Babin (TX-36) that will authorize the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to examine an issued license for any project that is located in an area that was declared by the President to be a disaster area in 2017.
“The people of Southeast Texas are looking for answers from all levels of government about the terrible floods we experienced in the vicinity of Toledo Bend and Lake Livingston,” said Rep. Babin. “By giving FERC an expedited path to examine the licenses for facilities in these disaster areas, they can start to answer those questions and make any necessary reforms or changes as soon as possible.
Rep. Babin’s full remarks on the House floor in support of his amendment are as follows:
“When a disaster like Hurricane Harvey strikes, the most important job we have is to assist those in harm's way.
“From the Texas National Guard to the Louisiana Cajun Navy, to countless volunteers and citizens who have volunteered and contributed their time, their money, and their prayers, we saw across southeast Texas, in the immediate aftermath of that storm, nothing less than a model to which the whole Nation and world can aspire.
“I have even compared the rescue of so many Texans by boat to the miracle at Dunkirk.
“But when the storm passes, it is just as important that we look for lessons, demand accountability, and work to fix whatever went wrong or may have made this situation worse.
“I am pleased to offer this amendment today that will begin to address such an issue.
“When a hydropower station is licensed and regulated by FERC, it is not just the power plant that falls under Federal control. Decisions about lake levels, flood storage capacity, and other measurements of the body of water that powers that station are set forth in FERC license protocols and guidelines written and administered by folks who work right here in Washington.
“As a former official for the Texas Lower Neches Valley River Authority, I know that these are tough decisions to make, and sometimes it is a matter of choosing between bad and worse options of where to put all of that water.
“But in my district, serious concerns have been raised by my constituents and local river authorities about whether FERC's licenses for hydropower facilities need to be adjusted to account for the unprecedented flooding that we just experienced and with the ability to make commonsense changes in the face of an impending flood event.
“My amendment ensures that nothing will stand in the way of FERC going in and examining the licenses for any facility located in the path of the terrible disasters that we have seen this year. By passing it with strong bipartisan support, we will make clear that that is just what FERC should do.”