5.5.5 Promoting Efficiency in the Hydropower Licensing Process

LPDD Recommendation:Congress should reform the hydropower licensing and permitting program by statutorily designating FERC as the lead agency, for purposes of NEPA review, for all licenses and other authorizations required under federal law.”

LPDD Recommendation:Congress should reform FERC’s license amendment process by implementing a fast-track procedure for efficiency upgrades, modernization activities, and upgrades that are not anticipated to produce significant environmental effects.”

LPDD Recommendation:To address state-law requirements requiring the state to conduct any required environmental review in conjunc­tion with state action authorized under federal law, Congress should provide for states to participate as a cooper­ating agency with FERC, while providing opportunity for states to complete additional reviews under state law that are beyond the scope of NEPA.”

LPDD Recommendation:To help ensure that agencies have needed resources to fulfill their responsibilities under federal law, Congress should provide optional mechanisms for agencies to receive direct funding from hydropower license applicants.”

LPDD Recommendation:To help promote timely participation by the hydropower applicant and participating resource agencies, Congress should empower FERC to establish a centralized schedule for the completion of all licenses and authorizations required for a nonfederal hydropower project. To ensure that all participants meet the deadlines set forth in the centralized schedule, Congress should include appropriate enforcement mechanisms.”

LPDD Recommendation:To help reduce redundancy in environmental studies and ensure sufficient time to complete all needed studies, Congress should direct FERC and all other resource agencies to develop a single comprehensive study plan at the beginning of the federal approval process, which will inform agency decisionmaking under all licensing and permitting requirements under federal law.”

LPDD Recommendation:To prevent ex parte communications between decisional staff within FERC and cooperating agencies, Congress should direct all cooperating agencies to promulgate regulations that separate cooperating and decisional staff in the hydropower process.”

Energy Policy Act of 2005

Process improvements for natural gas pipeline certification may be useful applied to the hydropower licensing realm.


Process improvements in transportation licensing may serve as a model for a similar effort in the approval processes for hydropower.

American Water Infrastructure Act

Created a fast-track procedure for the licensing of efficiency upgrades at hydropower facilities, as well as modernization activities and upgrades.

Proposed HR 2872 of 2017

Would have established an expedited licensing process for issuing and amending licenses and preliminary permits for nonpowered dams.