Water infrastructure: To deregulate or innovate?

Regulatory reform proponents say rebuilding the nation’s water and power infrastructure could start with dismantling the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
In a Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans oversight hearing, members of congress discussed ways to improve hydropower and drinking water where NEPA came under fire for unnecessarily impeding development.
“Environmental reviews and the federal permitting process for infrastructure projects are at the center of the regulatory problem,” Bakst said.
“Unnecessary federal red tape does not protect species, eliminate water pollution, or provide cleaner air.
“It is encouraging that we now have an Administration [that] understands that federal permitting reform must be the first thing we address if we want to get serious about addressing our nation’s infrastructure needs,” Subcommittee Chairman Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., said.
“And yet, some of my colleagues across the aisle continue to bring these projects forward again and again, keeping the myth alive for zombie dam projects that have been kicked around for years.
It’s probably not the most productive way to move forward on water infrastructure.” Suggesting the time has come to turn away from hydropower development and focus on drinking water viability, Huffman advocated for investing in “21st century technologies” that would withstand climate change and drought.
Jonathan Nelson, policy director for the Community Water Center in Visalia, California, also stressed the need for water systems modernization that would facilitate access to safe clean and affordable drinking water for a growing population.
“Many of the communities we work with have lacked safe drinking water for years.
California drinking water needs alone are estimated over $5.2 billion over the next 20 years,” Nelson said.

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