On Sept. 29, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued licenses for two hydroelectric power projects along the Monongahela River in West Virginia. The decision was reached over the objections of the state’s Department of Environmental Protection and other local stakeholders.
Opponents of the licenses contend that FERC did not address concerns to the projects raised during the public comment period. In Morgantown, W.Va., the site of one of the proposed projects, City Manager Paul Brake was particularly concerned about impact to recreational areas along the river such as trails and fisheries, according to The Dominion Post.
The actions come as federal lawmakers are considering a bill that would expand FERC’s power to authorize hydropower projects. In response, Democratic members of the federal House Energy and Commerce Committee have raised concerns about the recent West Virginia licenses.
“By denying the state its allotted time to review this application and submit requirements on these licenses, FERC is undermining the State’s authority under the Clean Water Act and Federal Power Act to impose conditions that will ensure water quality standards are met,” the members wrote to FERC Chairman Neal Chatterjee. — Elizabeth E. Payne