June 01, 2016

Hydropower Licensing under the Federal Power Act: A Century of Resource Conflict Resolution in the Public Interest

Charles R. Sensiba and Sharon L. White

Nearly 100 years ago, after numerous failed efforts over many years to facilitate the expansion of the then–relatively new hydropower technology along our nation’s navigable waters and on federal lands, Congress developed a bold, new concept on how to approve and regulate these energy projects. At a time when the interstate electric grid was emerging and hydropower was one of the few large-scale generation sources available, Congress recognized hydropower as essential to powering and modernizing the nation. Led by President Theodore Roosevelt, Gifford Pinchot, and others in the early conservation movement, Congress also recognized our nation’s waterways as a critical public resource for fisheries, navigation, irrigation, water supply, and recreation.

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