Proposal could increase state and local authority over shoreline boundaries

A recently proposed bill could allow states to reduce the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s authority over lakes created by hydroelectric dams.

The legislation, proposed by Vicky Hartzler (R – Mo.), stems largely from the controversy sparked in her state by shoreline boundary disputes at the 93-mile long Lake of the Ozarks.

FERC had originally agreed to a proposal from developer Ameren that would remove around 4,000 private structures from land the company had claimed for the 230.75-MW Osage hydropower project, though public uproar caused FERC to order the company to redraw the project’s boundary.

As per Hartzler’s bill, state legislatures would be given the choice to opt out of federal oversight of fish, shorelines and other issues indirectly related to power generation — giving management of such issues to state agencies, counties, and other local authorities.

“FERC’s threat to force the tearing down of homes and businesses at Lake of the Ozarks highlighted the dangers of an out-of-control federal government overstepping its bounds,” Hartzler says. “FERC’s attention should be focused on power generation. Homeowners and businesses at Lake of the Ozarks and other shoreline communities across the country should not live in fear of ‘Big Government’ ordering the destruction of their homes and businesses.”

Hartzler said passage of the bill might be difficult given the upcoming elections, but that it might at least serve to build momentum for the future.

“The unacceptable situation at Lake of the Ozarks and in a number of other locations across the country in which FERC has ordered the homes and businesses of private citizens to be torn down or has interfered with local management of the lakes makes no sense to me,” Hartzler says. “We value private property rights in America and it is wrong for the federal government to target homes, businesses, and docks for destruction.”

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