1992 Scorecard Vote
As part of the omnibus energy package, the House Committee in Interior and Insular Affairs endorsed proposals to restrict hydroelectric power development on certain protected natural areas and public lands, including a moratorium on new dam construction and dam licensing in national parks. The language also gave states the authority, through their river protection statutes, to set certain rivers or river segments off-limits to licensing of new hydropower dams by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
In part, the impetus for the states' rights provisions are recent FERC rules and court decisions that have seriously eroded states' abilities to ensure that hydropower is developed in an environmentally responsible manner. While numerous hydro projects have served as valuable alternatives to fossil fuels, many badly sited and poorly designed projects have harmed the environment by seriously degrading fisheries, altering water quality, and deteriorating valuable natural and recreational areas.
In the House consideration of the energy bill, Interior Committee Chair George Miller (D, CA-7) authored a provision to allow states, through their river protection statutes, to set certain rivers off-limits to new FERC-licensed hyrodpower plants. Representative Miller's provision would also give states and federal resource agencies more control with respect to licensing of hydroelectric power projects by FERC.
Energy and Commerce Committee Chair John Dingell (D, MI-16) offered a substitute amendment to the Miller amendment, which provided considerably less state control. Representative Dingell's amendment was rejected 195-221 on May 27, 1992. NO is the pro-environment vote. After the House rejected the weaker Dingell substitute amendment, it adopted the stronger Miller river protection amendment by a 3 to 1 margin.