Congressmen Edward Markey of Massachusetts and John Dingell of Michigan, US, have outlined provisions for a new hydro licensing bill that would reduce licensing delays and increase the Federal Energy Regulatory Commiss-ion’s (FERC) reporting requirements, including mandates to reveal what opponents call proprietary information. The new measures could boost the power of state and federal resource agencies, giving them authority to add conditions to hydro licences.

In addition, it sets up a dam decommissioning fund which will be funded by hydro licence holders, and establishes a US$5M fund to reimburse costs incurred by those intervening in licensing processes.

The most controversial sections, however, include the requirement that FERC bases the impacts of a hydro project on so-called natural river conditions, while another section limits the duration of new licences to 30 years and relicences to 15 years.