A Missouri Republican is proposing legislation that would allow states to reduce federal regulators’ authority of lakes created by hydroelectric dams after controversy over the Lake of the Ozarks’ shoreline.
U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler said Monday that she is filing a bill to give state legislatures the choice to opt out of federal oversight over fish, shorelines and other issues indirectly related to power generation. Instead, state agencies, counties or other local officials would manage those issues.
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The federal proposal comes after a year of controversy at the 93-mile-long Lake of the Ozarks, which was created in 1931 by the Bagnell Dam and Osage hydroelectric project and now is operated by St. Louis-based Ameren Missouri. Land included within the hydroelectric projects falls under the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s authority. Other land does not.
A dispute emerged after Ameren submitted a shoreline management plan to the federal commission in 2008, noting that some homes and structures had been built on land that was part of the hydroelectric project. Regulators initially said most of the buildings should be removed, but after a public outcry, the commission directed Ameren to redraw the project boundary.
In June, regulators approved a revised boundary that removed about 28,000 acres.
Hartzler, a Republican, represents part of the Lake of the Ozarks and discussed her proposed legislation Monday in a neighborhood near the lake. She said property owners should not need to fear losing property based upon a decision by the government.
“It’s a property rights issue,” Hartzler said. “I think that last year was a wake-up call for all of us here in Missouri that the federal government has overstepped its bounds and needed to be reined in.”
Hartzler said time is limited for the bill to be passed into law, but filing the measure now would help develop momentum for the future.
A spokeswoman for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission declined to comment.