Friday, October 29, 2004

Proposed New Appeals Process for Dams Angers Several Groups

WASHINGTON, Oct. 29 - A proposed Interior Department regulation that would create a unique appeals process for hydropower companies seeking relief from regulations intended to protect fish and other wildlife is prompting criticism from Indian tribes, state governments and environmental groups.

The proposal, published last month, injects the new appeals process in the middle of the multistage process that a hydropower company complete to renew its license to operate dams. The license renewal process, under the overall umbrella of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, gives several agencies, including the Fish and Wildlife Service in the Interior Department or the National Marine Fisheries Service in the Commerce Department, authority to require dam owners to take certain steps to protect wildlife.