Federal Water Power Policy

January 22, 1929

Report Outline
History of Federal Water Power Policy
Power Development Under Fedral License System
Present Questions of Water Power Policy

Many signs point to the conclusion that a revision of the Federal Water Power Act will be undertaken by the Seventy-first Congress, which comes into being with the expiration of the present Congress at noon on March 4. The new Congress will not meet for its first regular session until December 2, 1929, but it will probably be summoned into extraordinary session in advance of that date. When its first regular session comes to a close, the Federal Water Power Act will have been in effect approximately ten years.

Since the passage of the act in 1920, jurisdiction over most of the water power matters subject to federal authority has been vested in the Federal Power Commission. In each of its eight annual reports the Commission has stated that, because of the inadequacy of the staff placed at its disposal, it has been unable to exercise effectively many of the important powers conferred upon it by the act.

Amendments to the Water Power Act embodying the Commission's recommendations upon this and other points have been brought before Congress at every recent session, but none has obtained the approval of both houses. These amendments have failed because their consideration was found to lead in almost every case to a reopening of controversies over the scope and objectives of federal water power policy-controversies which operated throughout the decade preceding 1920 to block the enactment of any thorough-going water power legislation.

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