3:00 PM EDT

Christopher "Chris" S. Murphy, D-CT 5th

Mr. MURPHY of Connecticut. Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to offer an amendment to H.R. 3221, to require the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or better known as FERC, to hold public local meetings before issuing permits or authorizations that will affect land use decisions, if that meeting is requested by local citizens. [Page: H9858]

While FERC is required to have an open comment period before they issue a rule, there is currently no mechanism right now to require that they hold a public local hearing in an affected locality.

I bring this issue to the floor today, Mr. Chairman, because my constituents who live in the community surrounding Candlewood Lake in Connecticut were unable to secure a public hearing from FERC to air their concerns regarding a shoreline management plan that would impose new hefty fees on the residents that surround that lake and enjoy that lake.

This amendment is based on a simple premise: Public policymakers cannot and should not, frankly, act without the input of citizens who will be affected by the decisions that they make.

As legislators, we know we can't simply sample public opinion by sitting in our offices here in Washington and reading the mail that may come in. We need to go back to our districts and solicit opinion there. A regulatory agency should be held to the same standard, especially in relation to hydropower assets, around which many citizens reside.

My amendment is a commonsense solution to the problem that any of us could face. It does nothing to alter or constrain the decisions that FERC may ultimately make; it just ensures the commission would hear all sides before making any determination on land use issues and ensures that our constituents' voices are heard.

Mr. Chairman, I understand that this issue may need more time for the committee.

I would be happy to yield to the chairman for a short colloquy.

3:02 PM EDT

Rick Boucher, D-VA 9th

Mr. BOUCHER. I want to thank the gentleman for yielding, and I commend him for bringing this matter before the committee today. It is my understanding that he intends to ask that his amendment be withdrawn momentarily.

Let me give assurance to the gentleman that we are sensitive to the valid concerns that he has raised about the need to have public participation in the processes of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; and I want to pledge to him that we will work with him and with the FERC to ensure that his constituents are heard with regard to matters that affect them.

I thank the gentleman for yielding and commend him on bringing this concern before the House.