I want to give you a quick update on my recent work as your representative in the House, and share some important news for Oregonians and local communities in our great state. In the House, we recently passed critical legislation to help communities in Oregon clean up old industrial sites and put them back into productive use. The International Trade Commission (ITC) also took important action to combat illegal trade practices from the Chinese, and help protect wood products jobs in Oregon. And at the Energy and Commerce Committee — where I serve as chairman — we recently passed important legislation to boost hydropower production in Oregon and across the country.I hope you’ll continue reading to learn more about this work and recent headlines impacting our state.
A better path forward for Cascade-Siskiyou
After an extensive review of national monument designations made under the 1906 Antiquities Act, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke released a final report that included recommendations for the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in southern Oregon. I appreciate Secretary Zinke’s willingness to come to southern Oregon this summer to meet with passionate people on all sides of the issue before making his decision, and his recommendation reflects the concerns we heard raised by foresters, private landowners, county commissioners, ranchers, and others.
Past presidents have ignored federal law that governs much of this forest land and have exceeded the intent of the Antiquities Act by roping in enormous swaths of private land into the monument. The result was a loss of private property rights and reduced revenues for our schools and roads. Meanwhile, the forests become more overstocked, increasing the risk of catastrophic fire. After the devastating fires this summer, it’s time to get back to responsible management of our public lands.
For more information on Secretary Zinke’s final report and full recommendations for the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, please click here.
I am pleased to announce that Tyson Seable, a freshman at Grants Pass High School, is the winner of the 2017 Congressional App Challenge! The Congressional App Challenge is designed to engage student creativity and encourage their participation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education fields. This nationwide event allows high school students from across the country to compete against their peers by creating and exhibiting their software application, or “app,” for mobile, tablet, or computer devices on a platform of their choice.
Tyson’s app — called “Flare” — allows users to distribute quizzes to friends and students, and provides live results for each quiz that are available for download and sharing. And while the app is designed for classrooms, Tyson said that Flare can be enjoyed by anyone who enjoys a challenge — it will be available on the Google Playstore in December. I enjoyed talking with Tyson to tell him the news and congratulate him on winning this year’s challenge. Tyson is an ambitious student with a unique skill set and bright future ahead of him.
I encourage interested students from across Oregon’s Second District to participate in next year’s Congressional App Challenge. For more information on the Congressional App Challenge and how to participate, please visit https://walden.house.gov/appchallenge.
Good news for Crater Lake-Klamath Regional Airport
Recently, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) made an important announcement for the community in Klamath Falls and the Crater Lake-Klamath Regional Airport. The TSA announced they will be leaving their screening equipment in place as the airport continues its recruitment process for a new carrier to bring commercial air service back to Klamath Falls.
I heard from airport officials that leaving the screening equipment in place will allow the airport and local community to recruit a replacement carrier without the administrative and logistical burdens of removing the equipment. That’s why I sent a letter to TSA Administrator David Pekoske requesting that the screening equipment remain in place until the airport’s robust recruitment process is complete.
This is a small but important step that will help the airport recruit a new carrier, and I will continue to work alongside my congressional colleagues, the Department of Transportation, and airport officials to return commercial air service back to Klamath Falls. Learn more here.
Reauthorizing the Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields Program
Recently, the House passed bipartisan legislation that will help communities in Oregon clean up old industrial sites and put them back into productive use — boosting local economies and growing jobs. The Brownfields Enhancement, Economic Redevelopment, and Reauthorization Act originated in the Energy and Commerce Committee — where I serve as chairman — and seeks to reauthorize and make improvements to EPA’s Brownfields Program.
Oregon has successfully utilized the Brownfields Program to clean up industrial sites across our state and put them back in to productive service. One great example is the Old Mill District in Bend, the former site of two lumber mills that is now a bustling hub of economic activity thanks in part to the Brownfields Program.
Before-and-after photo of the Old Mill District in Bend, Oregon, one of Oregon’s most successful Brownfields Program projects. Picture courtesy of Old Mill District
Bend isn’t alone. Last year in The Dalles, Google broke ground on an expansion to their data center on 26 acres of former mill land that was cleaned up under this program — a $600 million investment expected to create 50 new jobs. In my hometown of Hood River, the Port of Hood River just finished a brownfields cleanup of another former mill site, opening over 12 acres of land for future business opportunities in the area. And in southern Oregon, the city of Grants Pass is in the early stages of working towards the same goal. They’ve successfully secured assistance through the Brownfields Program to begin planning the cleanup and redevelopment of the old Spalding Mill industrial site.
These are just a few examples of how the Brownfields Program has been successful in Oregon. The Brownfields Enhancement, Economic Redevelopment, and Reauthorization Act — which passed on a 409-8 vote — will help ensure this success continues. Learn more here.
As Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, one of my top priorities is to boost renewable energy and help protect small businesses and consumers from overregulation. Recently, the Energy and Commerce Committee passed important legislation to promote hydropower in Oregon, and rein in costly regulations that are hurting rural communities in our state.
In Oregon, over 43% of our electricity is generated from hydropower — a clean energy source that emits zero carbon. During our meeting, we passed legislation to help Oregon do a better job of harnessing its great hydropower potential. Legislation we passed promotes hydropower development at existing non-powered dams and opens the door wider for the construction of more pumped storage hydropower projects, which is of particular interest to Oregon where we have tremendous opportunities to build new pumped-hydro storage facilities.
This work builds on legislation we passed in the House — the Hydropower Policy Modernization Act — which will help modernize hydropower production across the country. With the abundance of hydropower in Oregon, we must ensure we are taking full advantage of this valuable resource. Learn more about our work to get that done here.
Protecting timber jobs in Oregon
In a move that will help protect timber jobs in Oregon and across the country, the International Trade Commission (ITC) recently announced tariffs against China to protect the U.S. hardwood plywood market. Specifically, the ITC announced tariffs up to 183% against the Chinese for illegally subsidizing hardwood plywood imports. Oregon is the largest producer of hardwood plywood in the United States, and in October I testified before the ITC in support of an investigation into China’s illegal trade activity.
Meeting with employees of Timber Products, a hardwood plywood lumber mill in Medford
For too long, hardwood plywood mills in Oregon — like Timber Products in Medford — have suffered from the unfair trade practices China has used to corner this vital market, and threaten family-wage jobs in our state. When I met with employees of Timber Products in August, we discussed the need to protect U.S. timber jobs and send the clear signal that using illegal trade practices to hurt American companies, cost American jobs, and harm American communities is unacceptable. The ITC’s action helps accomplish that, and I will continue to work to protect manufacturing jobs in Oregon and throughout the United States. Learn more here.
2017 Champion of Rural America Award
Honored to be a recipient of the National Grange’s Champion of Rural America Award for 2017
I was also truly honored to receive the National Grange’s Champion of Rural America award this year. As Oregonians, we understand well the importance of supporting rural America. With over 167 Granges throughout our great state, National Grange has been a strong advocate and voice for rural communities in Oregon and across the country for 150 years.
I want to especially thank National Grange President Betsy Huber and her entire team for their service and dedication to rural America and rural Oregon, and for this tremendous honor. To learn more about the National Grange and the work this organization does for rural communities, please click HERE.