Recreation at the scenic Lake of the Ozarks is being threatened by FERC's over reach
FERC at the Lake of the Ozarks
In 2011, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) ordered over 1,200 homes to be torn down at Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks because they were built closer to the water line than the Federal government wanted them. Nearly all of the structures, many of which were multi-million-dollar homes, were built under permits issued by the local utility company, were built to code, and were causing no obvious problem to the lake or its surroundings. Nonetheless, FERC’s far-off Washington bureaucrats ordered their destruction without so much as a visit to see them. Although FERC quickly backtracked after the firestorm created by their destruction order, FERC has exhibited similar overreach at other lakes from Virginia to Washington state.
FERC’s Mission – Energy regulation is both FERC’s mission and expertise. Its jurisdiction over the Lake of the Ozarks comes entirely from the fact that the lake’s dam contains hydroelectric turbines that generate electricity. Many believe FERC’s energy experts are very proficient at regulating hydroelectric power generation. However, revisions to the Federal Power Act in the 1980s and ‘90s expanded FERC’s mission to make it a nearly all-encompassing regulator over hydroelectric lake shoreline development, regardless of whether or not the shoreline development impacts the turbines in any way. FERC now regulates things as broad and vague as “scenic beauty,” “aesthetic values,” “recreational values,” and “fish spawning grounds.” This expansive regulatory authority goes far beyond FERC’s mission and expertise, and FERC’s resulting missteps have led to unnecessary frustration and outrage. FERC’s oversight should be restored to its core mission – regulating energy production – not dictating home construction and recreation.
Solution: State Choice – Local land use and zoning have long been governed by local government, as common sense tells us that the people who live in an area should be able to decide what their neighborhood should look like and how restrictive their building ordinances should be. My Leave Our Lakes Alone Act (LOLA) gives each state the choice to opt out of all shoreline regulations other than those governing power regulation. If a state legislature enacts a law opting out of FERC’s additional shoreline regulations, then the state or local government could institute any regulations they see fit for their hydroelectric lakes’ shorelines, so long as they do not impact power regulation. If a state is comfortable with the way FERC currently regulates its lakes, then nothing would change and FERC would go on regulating that state’s lakes as it currently does.
Under this bill, no state would be forced to opt out of FERC’s non-energy regulations, but those that wish to do so would be allowed to opt out. This true freedom of choice would let the local citizens who are directly affected by shoreline regulations make their own decisions about their neighborhood and homes.
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