Michigan Congress Members Reintroduce Dam Safety Legislation in Wake of 2020 Dam Failures

Congressman John Moolenaar and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell have reintroduced bipartisan dam safety legislation they originally introduced last December.

Last May, the Edenvile and Sanford dams failed, causing flooding in communities in Midland and Saginaw counties and causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. The legislation makes reforms and improvements to dam and hydropower safety operations and oversight in the United States.

The National Dam and Hydropower Safety Improvements Act of 2021 would enhance dam and hydropower safety operation requirements nationwide and aims to modernize existing infrastructure through the development of new best practices and improved communications between Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and states.

The National Dam and Hydropower Safety Improvements Act of 2021 would specifically do the following:

  • Add a new requirement to section 10 of the Federal Power Act to mandate dam and project works meet the FERC’s dam safety requirements and to require the licensee to manage, operate, and maintain the dam and project works consistent with dam safety requirements.
  • Amend section 15 of the Federal Power Act to require FERC to issue a new license only if the Commission determines the dam and other project works meet the Commission’s dam safety requirements and that the operating conditions of the license are consistent with those requirements.
  • Require FERC to establish procedures for evaluating the financial health of prospective hydropower licensees.
  • Require FERC to convene a technical conference with State representatives to examine best practices for Dam Safety.