Congressman Robert Hurt Introduces The SHORE Act To Protect Smith Mountain Lake, Bedford, Franklin, Pittsylvania Private Landowners' Rights

posted Jan 5, 2012, 10:40 AM by Site administrator   [ updated Oct 14, 2014, 10:48 AM ]
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WASHINGTON, DC– Congressman Robert Hurt (R-VA) today released the following statement after announcing the introduction of the Supporting Home Owner Rights Enforcement (SHORE) Act that will require the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to take into account private property ownership rights when issuing and enforcing hydropower project licenses. Companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO): 

“As the federal government continues to expand in size and scope, we must ensure that Central and Southside Virginians and all Americans are not negatively affected by its over-reach, especially as it relates to individuals’ right to own and enjoy private property. The SHORE Act will require that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission take into consideration the private property rights of Fifth District Virginians when exercising their authority as it relates to Smith Mountain Lake and other federally regulated hydro-projects. 

“Federal government regulations have rapidly expanded in reach in the past decade, and this is but one example of that expansion. I appreciate the engaged citizens at Smith Mountain Lake, and in Bedford, Franklin, and Pittsylvania Counties for bringing this important issue to my attention and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House and the Senate to address this issue.” 

Russ Johnson, Franklin County Supervisor & Chairman Of The Tri-County Relicensing Committee added, “The SHORE Act is not only of great benefit to the 240,000 people that live in the counties that encompass Smith Mountain and Leesville Lakes, it is of benefit to private property owners throughout the United States who seek, as we do, to balance environmental stewardship and recreational enhancement with private property and the rights that go with ownership. The noble goals of this legislation go a long way towards fairness and responsibility, which are at the core of our nation and of our government’s proper relationship with its citizens.” 

Background Information 

The SHORE Act will amend the Federal Power Act to require that when issuing a license or enforcement action, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) must take into consideration private property and the private use and enjoyment of land. Additionally, it will require that licensees consider the benefit of private landownership to investment and increased tourism when developing recreation resources within a project boundary.

HOUSE & SENATE APPROPRIATIONS REPORT  

Congressman Robert Hurt was also successful in including report language in the final FY12 Appropriations bill relating to Smith Mountain Lake and Lake of the Ozarks. 

As you can see, this is a strong statement from the House and Senate Appropriations Committees that the concerns over property rights at Smith Mountain Lake and Lake of the Ozarks will be carefully watched by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees and Congress and that Congress expects FERC to take significant steps to address these concerns going forward. 
  

    The conferees are aware of significant local concerns with the process for developing, reviewing and approving shoreline management plans at Smith Mountain Lake and Lake of the Ozarks. As the licensees develop and FERC reviews and approves shoreline management plans, both parties must not only ensure the continued unimpeded operation of the project, but also recognize the rights and concerns of private property owners and local communities. The parties should develop innovative and mutually agreeable solutions to resolve conflicts among project purposes and private property, which should be implemented without delay. The conferees note that several options already exist for resolving such conflicts - such as realigning project boundaries, grandfathering non-conforming structures, or conveying the disputed property - and that the removal of private structures should only be required, if at all, when all other options are inadequate. The conferees direct FERC to review the shoreline management plan process to identify any improvements that could be made to address local concerns at each stage of the process and to submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report detailing any administrative changes to be undertaken as well as any recommended legislative changes that may be necessary.