WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republican-controlled House has approved a bill aimed at speeding up hydroelectric power projects in the U.S.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state, would define hydropower as a renewable energy source and streamline the way projects are licensed. Lawmakers approved the bill Wednesday, 257-166.
Power from rivers and streams makes up nearly 70 percent of electricity generated in Washington state and accounts for more than 50 percent of power in Oregon and Idaho. But hydropower only accounts for 7 percent of electricity nationwide. McMorris Rodgers, a Republican, says that figure could be doubled without constructing a single dam.
Opponents said the bill turns over public waterways to industry at the expense of fishermen, boaters and Native American tribes.
The bill now goes to the Senate.