Relicensing of a hydroelectric project begins at least two years before the old license expires.
After an application is filed, the
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gives public notice, and any
member of the public can comment. But to maintain a voice
throughout the process, some petition to become intervenors by
proving their direct interest in the decision. Nine out of 10
petitions are granted. In the case of Fossil Creek, the Yavapai
Apache Tribe, Center for Biological Diversity and American Rivers
all have intervenor status.
prepares an environmental analysis under the provisions of the
National Environmental Policy Act, and then it decides whether to
relicense. At that point, only intervenors can file for a
rehearing. If FERC doesn't grant one, intervenors can take the
matter to federal appeals court.
A decade ago,
few people got involved in the relicensing process, says Andrew
Falund, of the Hydropower Reform Coalition. When they did, their
voices were barely heard. That's changed, but with one caveat: "For
individual citizens to become involved and be effective, they have
to join with other like citizens and coalitions. There's no other
way around it - it's much too complicated and much too
The public can use the FERC
facilities in Washington, D.C., for research. For more information
on the relicensing process, call 202/208-0680 or check out FERC's
Web site at www.ferc.fed.us.