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Hr 6247


STL Matt

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My buddy is a hydrology scientist up in Ohio and tells me this bill is bad news for conservation and fishing. It's sort of disguised as a pro-hydropower bill, but it seems designed to protect energy interests at the cost of scientific water and fishery management. At the risk of breaking the rule of posting about politics, I just wanted to pass on a couple links where you can at least sign a petition, whatever good that'll do. I figure yeah, it's politics in that it is a congressional bill, but on a fishing forum maybe we can all agree we don't want a law that actually makes it ILLEGAL to tear down an old, dangerous dam or to work on river restoration, not to mention we probably don't want to fund subsidies for new damns with taxpayer money but no input from water scientists or fishery habitat biologists.

https://secure2.conv...rAction&id=1341

http://www.wildsalmo...nvironment.html

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hydropower is an excellent energy alternative. Obviously no new dams are going to built. In my 32 years working for the Corps, there has been study after study about adding hydropower to locks and dams on the big rivers and flood control lakes like Carlyle, Rend, etc. Even studies of putting units on the bottom of the Mississippi proper to harness the energy. None of them were ever feasible from a private investor point of view. I have spoken out against subsidies for worthless stuff before, but these potential hydropower additions might be worthy of consideration for a govt subsidy.

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We were going to get a in river one here on the Mississippi, but I think they found it would have an effect on the sturgeon in the area.

"Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously."

Hunter S. Thompson

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pallid sturgeon or not JD, you could never get anything to stay on the bottom of the Mississippi. Sandwaves, debris, etc. Now if you could put one off channel up in the water column some, with a deflector shield, then maybe you could capture the 8 to 10 mph current.

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With the well-known and openly professed current Administration's hate for coal fired power plants and the coming enormous increases in electric bills due to the Government mandated, gradual switch to natural gas, any source of power generation is going to become more economically feasible. Just wait a few years and see how your wallet get's hit and you'll see what I'm talking about.

The one energy source the U.S. has in overwhelming abundance is coal so, naturally, we are going to be forced to abandon it as a fuel source.

http://www.aecc.com/...on_monoxide.pdf

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I am pretty on board with hydropower in general, and didn't mean to start an energy debate. What my buddy tells me the danger of this law is is that it will make it really, really hard for conservation/restoration groups to take down old dams or improve habitat on rivers. His company has done a fair amount of that up in Ohio with really good results for the small towns in terms of tourism and fishing-related business income, and I understand lots of groups have had a lot of success on Pacific streams too (over there it gets all tangled up with Native American politics), re-opening spawning routes and such. All that stuff would get a lot harder to do if this bill passes.

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With the well-known and openly professed current Administration's hate for coal fired power plants and the coming enormous increases in electric bills due to the Government mandated, gradual switch to natural gas, any source of power generation is going to become more economically feasible. Just wait a few years and see how your wallet get's hit and you'll see what I'm talking about.

The one energy source the U.S. has in overwhelming abundance is coal so, naturally, we are going to be forced to abandon it as a fuel source.

http://www.aecc.com/...on_monoxide.pdf

None of it is free. The jury is still out on whether gas fracking can be done safely and without using up vast quantities of water in areas where water is scarce. But geez, even so-called clean coal is really, really "dirty" to get out of the ground (fly over West Virginia and see all the totally destroyed landscapes, or go to Wyoming and see all the streams that are being more or less ruined by strip mines in the area), not to mention dirty to burn and dirty to clean up the waste products. There's more to it than just CO2. After reading your link, a few things strike me...

Even with coal, they expect energy costs to rise 74% by 2020. Question is, is that due to increased demand? If so, is that assuming little is done about energy conservation, or about cleaning up coal further? And given their recommendations, which include investment in research to further clean up coal AND to develop alternative energy sources, they acknowledge that those things should be a part of future energy. But are they REALLY expecting that to happen? And, here's the kicker...are they basing their future cost estimates on CURRENT technology in alternative energy sources? I'd bet they are. But if "forced" to turn partly to alternative energy sources, they'd have more incentive to develop better, cheaper ways of getting electricity from those sources.

They keep throwing out that 2020 date, yet they advocate more nuclear plants as one of their recommendations. It takes a lot more than ten years to develop and build new nuclear plants.

They are throwing out cost estimates, but I suspect that somebody with a different perspective could find just as valid cost estimates to support a different position.

Fact is, any for profit electric company wants to do what makes them the most profit. At this point, since they have all those coal fired plants already in operation, and the coal technology is cheap, they want to keep doing business as usual. I understand that nobody likes to be "forced" to do something by the government. But sometimes without that forcing, they won't do it.

As for the subject of the original post, I too am very worried about the lack of funding for dam removal projects. There are some dams that really should be removed. But small scale hydro is, in my opinion, one of the many things we need to do in electric energy. Mainly, we need to get smaller and more local with electric generating. Got a good sized river flowing by your town? Invest in run of the river hydro to produce energy for your town. Sit close to a good wind generation area? Invest in wind generators for your municipality or county. Does your industry produce waste products that can be used to generate power? Utilize them. Geothermal, solar, tidal, biomass...none of them are ready for "prime time" as in regional grid-wide electric generation, but all are at or close to the point right now where they are practical for smaller applications, like households. Each person, each company, each city, each county, should be responsible for producing at least PART of their electricity needs, with tie ins to the existing electric company grid where the grid buys the excess power when it's available from these local entities, and sells the power when the smaller entities need more than they can generate themselves.

One other advantage to this approach is that it makes the electric grid much less susceptible to terrorism and sabotage. Al Qaeda ain't gonna come to my house and blow up my solar panels, and even if they did it would only affect me. But if they knocked out the regional grid, it would be a very big deal.

The problem with this approach, and the reason it ain't happening already to a greater extent, is that it means less profit for the electric companies. As recently as about four years ago, my own Missouri electric cooperative's policy on home energy production with grid tie in was that they required a MILLION dollar bond to do so, "in case your generating system damages our grid". I haven't checked it since.

But the advantages to it are that it would develop a huge new set of industries supplying, installing, and maintaining the equipment needed for each of those smaller entities to produce their own power.

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I haven't had the time to dissect the whole thing, but my two biggest beefs so far are:

Cutting federal funding to even study dam removal- IMO a dam is like any other infrastructure, and can outlive its usefulness. If a dam is no longer generates as much benefit to society as it costs to maintain, I think we should take a hard look at either rehabbing that dam, or demolishing it. I just don't see the value in having the public continuing to pay for maintenance and safety inspections of dams which are no longer economically viable. And to me, measures like this seem like maintaining the status quo, as opposed to actually moving toward some real reforms in efficiency.

Eliminating federal funds for NGOs which have advocated or participated in dam removal seems downright punitive to me. Federal Sportfish Restoration funds are used by lots of state agencies, in conjunction with groups like TU, to do all sorts of projects not related to dam removal- habitat restoration and enhancement, fish stocking, acquiring public fishing accesses, etc. If that funding source were to be eliminated I think a lot of these groups would be much less effective at completing their goals, and providing increased fishing and recreational opportunities for the public. If hydro were the boon some folks believe it is, I would think it could stand on its own- it wouldn't need measures like these as an attempt to silence any opposition.

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