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Senate Committee on Energy and Natural ResourcesIntroducedFebruary 13th, 2013
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Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act
A bill to authorize all Bureau of Reclamation conduit facilities for hydropower development under Federal Reclamation law, and for other purposes.
Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act - Amends the Reclamation Project Act of 1939 to authorize the Secretary of the Interior (acting through the Bureau of Reclamation) to contract for the development of small conduit hydropower at Bureau facilities. Defines: (1) "small conduit hydropower" as 5 megawatts or less; and (2) "conduit" as a tunnel, canal, pipeline, aqueduct, flume, ditch, or similar manmade water conveyance. Requires that power privilege leases be offered first to an irrigation district or water users association operating or receiving water from the applicable transferred or reserved conduit. Defines: (1) reserved conduit as any conduit included in project works whose care, operation, and maintenance has been reserved by the Secretary (through the Bureau); and (2) transferred conduit as any conduit included in project works whose care, operation, and maintenance has been transferred to a legally organized water users association or irrigation district. Requires the Secretary, if the irrigation district or water users association elects not accept a lease of power privilege offer, to offer it to other parties. Directs the Bureau to apply its categorical exclusion process under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) to small conduit hydropower development, except with respect to siting of associated transmission facilities on federal lands. (A "categorical exclusion" under NEPA is a category of actions which do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment and which have been found to have no such effect in procedures adopted by a federal agency in implementing environmental regulations and for which, therefore, neither an environmental assessment nor an environmental impact statement is required.) Makes the Bureau's Power Resources Office the lead office for such small conduit hydropower policy and procedure-setting activities. (Thus excludes such activities from the jurisdiction of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [FERC].) Declares that nothing in this Act shall: (1) obligate specified power administrations to purchase or market the power produced by such facilities; (2) alter or impede the delivery and management of water for original project purposes; (3) alter or affect any existing agreements for conduit hydropower development projects or disposition of revenues; or (4) alter or affect any existing preliminary permit, license, or exemption issued by FERC or any project for which an application has been filed with FERC as of the date of the enactment of this Act. Deems water used for conduit hydropower generation to be incidental to use of water for the original project purposes.