Currently, some groups receive taxpayer dollars to bankroll their efforts to bring down dams and Hastings, a long-time supporter of keeping the four lower Snake River dams in place producing electricity, storing water for irrigation and providing for barge transportation between Portland and Lewiston, said it is time to call a halt to that practice.
According to reports in The Seattle Times, court and federal government records show that American Rivers, for example, would be affected because the group has litigated and it's received federal dollars, including a $1 million National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration grant last year.
Hastings believes, that in a day when the U.S. government is running up massive deficits, that the taxpayer dollars can be spent more wisely. "This bill would help eliminate government roadblocks and frivolous litigation that stifle development," Hastings, R-Pasco, said in a statement when he introduced it.
Hydropower accounts for about 8 percent of all electrical production nationwide. California has more hydropower facilities than any other state, while Washington leads in overall power production.
Groups filing lawsuits that "if successful would result in" a reduction in hydropower generation would be covered by the federal funding cutoff, under the new bill. Attorneys for such groups likewise would be cut off. Spencer Pederson, a spokesman for the House Natural Resources Committee, said the panel didn't have a list of which organizations might be affected.
"It is a statement about the importance of hydropower and how taxpayer dollars shouldn't be used to destroy that resource," Pederson said of the bill.
Along with American Rivers, the National Wildlife Federation and Trout Unlimited are among the organizations that could be cut off from federal funding under the bill; each has been party to a suit potentially challenging hydropower generation, and each has received federal money.
Basically, in the future if Hasting's measure is enacted, they will have to raise money on their own just as those defending keeping dams in place must do.