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Congressman Peter DeFazio

Representing the 4th District of OREGON

Natural Resources

Congressman DeFazio is committed to the responsible management of our nation's natural resources. DeFazio has worked tirelessly for the economic security and sustainability of rural communities in Oregon and across the U.S., offered common-sense solutions to promote forest health and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire, and championed legislation to protect some of Oregon's most incredible natural treasures.

One of DeFazio’s top legislative priorities in Congress is to pass a long-term forest plan for the statutorily unique Oregon and California Railroad Lands (commonly known as O&C Lands) that improves forest health, protects irreplaceable old growth, creates private sector jobs, and provides critical revenues to rural Oregon counties to support basic services like law enforcement and education. 

In 2012, DeFazio worked on a bipartisan basis with Reps. Kurt Schrader and Greg Walden to craft and publicly release a solution entitled the “O&C Trust, Conservation, and Jobs Act.”  The plan was widely endorsed by diverse stakeholder groups in Oregon.  In September 2013, the O&C Trust, Conservation, and Jobs Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives but failed to advance in the Senate.

Major Accomplishments

County Payments

One of DeFazio's proudest accomplishments is his work on legislation to provide "safety net" payments to timber-dependent counties after changes in federal timber policy dramatically reduced timber receipts to rural communities across the United States. DeFazio helped break the legislative gridlock surrounding the bill and hammered out a compromise signed into law on October 30, 2000. The law has provided tens of millions of dollars for Oregon schools, roads, and public safety. DeFazio also played an instrumental role in extending the "safety net" reauthorizations. 

Log Export Ban

Early in his congressional career when Oregon was suffering from a recession DeFazio proposed legislation to ban the export of raw logs from federal lands. The ban remains in place and has saved thousands of family-wage jobs.

New Management Strategy in our forests

In an attempt to break the forest management gridlock on federal forests, DeFazio spearheaded two forest pilot projects in western Oregon to demonstrate new, scientifically-based strategies for managing public forests. The pilot projects were led by world-renowned forestry experts Norm Johnson (Oregon State University) and Jerry Franklin (University of Washington). DeFazio was instrumental in bringing key stakeholders to the table – county governments, environmentalists, the timber industry, and federal agencies – and garnering the support of the Obama administration.  The two original pilot projects turned into five projects.  To learn more about the forest pilot projects in Western Oregon, visit: http://www.blm.gov/or/resources/forests/index.php and scroll to “Western OR (O&C) Forestry.”

Protecting Oregon’s Natural Treasures

DeFazio’s leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives was crucial to securing appropriate protections for Steens Mountain, Mt. Hood, the Cascade-Siskiyous, the Elk River and Copper Salmon area, the Oregon Badlands, Soda Mountain, and Spring Basin.  See below to learn more about what DeFazio is doing to protect even more of Oregon’s incredible natural places. 

DeFazio on Forest Management

There is probably no more politically divisive issue in Oregon's Fourth Congressional District than forest policy. Historically, it has been one the most heavily timber-dependent districts in the country. DeFazio has been widely acknowledged for his skill in managing forest policy.

He was thrust to the forefront of this issue when timber harvests were severely curtailed in the late 80s. Cutting old growth timber on public lands was banned to protect the habitat of the threatened northern spotted owl. He spent countless hours working with labor groups, environmentalists and industry leaders to craft a forest plan that would have avoided legal conflicts and provided real certainty to timber-dependent communities. His efforts to find middle ground and reach consensus were ridiculed by extremists on both sides of the issue, yet he was successful in gaining broad support for his vision of forest management. 

Shortly after taking office, President Clinton took steps to try to resolve the spotted owl controversy. President Clinton offered the Northwest Forest Plan, which failed in its promises of a steady supply of timber to local mills and protection for vital ecosystems. DeFazio opposed the Clinton plan. Since the mid-1990s, DeFazio has urged the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations to revise the Northwest Forest Plan to protect old growth and provide sustainable jobs. As mentioned above, DeFazio helped craft the O&C bill, which passed the House but failed to advance in the Senate.

Biomass Utilization

DeFazio supports the responsible utilization of biomass material from federal land to develop renewable energy, create jobs, and improve forest health. Hundreds of thousands of acres of federal forests in Oregon could benefit from ecological-based thinning projects. These projects generate thousands of tons of wood chips, slash, and brush that could be used to generate local energy. However, the current practice of forest contractors is to pile and burn this material in the open on our public lands - a practice that is bad for the soil and air. A better approach would be to transport this material from federal lands to local facilities to produce local, renewable energy and to create family-wage jobs. Due to short-sighted national energy policies, woody biomass from forest restoration and commercial thinnings on public lands are not utilized as a renewable fuel and energy source. 

Protecting Oregon's Natural Treasures

DeFazio has been a champion of protecting some of Oregon's most unique and spectacular places for the enjoyment of current and future generations. 

One of his proudest achievements is expanding the Oregon Caves National Monument. Legislation transfered management responsibilities of the unique caves from the Forest Service to the National Park Service (NPS). The expansion, which was proposed and supported by NPS more than 75 years ago, ensures that the caves and surrounding watershed are adequately protected from water contamination and pollution from grazing. Management by the Park Service also emphasizes wildfire prevention and forest restoration. 

Climate Change

DeFazio is committed to promoting the development of renewable energy, helping reduce emissions of greenhouse gases responsible for climate change, and putting an end to our reliance on foreign oil. While DeFazio supports implementing strong domestic caps on greenhouse gas emissions, he believes the most efficient and effective way to cut greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, is for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate emissions. Well-designed regulations would provide the needed predictability and stability to businesses and polluters as they move forward in cutting their emissions. Unlike a speculative, volatile, Wall Street-led cap and trade system, EPA regulations can help the United States reach real reductions without excessive corporate profits and windfalls.

More on Natural Resources

Mar 21, 2017 Press Release

Rep. Peter DeFazio today sent a letter to Oregon Governor Kate Brown applauding cuts to ineffective predator control programs at the Oregon Departments of Agriculture (ODA) and Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), which were laid out in her Recommended Budget.

In the last month alone, three dogs have been killed by cyanide bombs (also known as M-44 devices) used by Wildlife Services for predator control practices. In February, the gray wolf OR-48 was killed after ingesting poison from an M-44 device.

Jan 12, 2017 Press Release

WASHINGTON—Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Jared Huffman (D-CA) and Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) today secured a twenty-year ban on new mining projects in an ecologically and economically critical region in Southwest Oregon.

The areas protected include the watershed of the National Wild and Scenic North Fork Smith River in Oregon, the watershed of Rough and Ready Creek (an eligible Wild and Scenic River and tributary to the National Wild and Scenic Illinois and Rogue rivers), as well as 17 miles of the National Wild and Scenic Chetco River.

Sep 23, 2016 Press Release

Rep. Peter DeFazio today announced the introduction of the Frank Moore Wild Steelhead Sanctuary Act of 2016, H.R. 6129, legislation that would designate nearly 100,000 acres in the Steamboat Creek Watershed in Umpqua National Forest for salmon preservation.

The Steamboat Creek watershed is consistently identified as one of the most important ecological areas in the Pacific Northwest. The watershed also serves as an important cold water refuge for migrating summer steelhead.

May 20, 2015 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley, Representative Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Senator Ron Wyden, Representative Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), and Representative Peter DeFazio (OR-04) introduced the Columbia River Basin Restoration Act. The legislation would authorize $50 million over five years for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish a voluntary, competitive Columbia Basin grants program for projects that assist in eliminating or reducing pollution, cleaning up contaminated sites, improving water quality, monitoring the basin, and promoting citiz

May 6, 2015 Press Release

Washington, D.C. – A group of House and Senate lawmakers today asked the Interior Department to limit the unnecessary releases of natural gas from oil and gas wells on public lands in light of a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report finding that federal officials have not improved natural gas capture standards despite two previous reports urging reforms.

Mar 11, 2015 Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.  — Eleven members of the U.S. House from the Pacific Northwest wrote today to the U.S. Forest Service urging them to hold more listening sessions on upcoming revisions to the Northwest Forest Plan. The members expressed concern that sessions are only planned for three locations: Seattle, Wash.; Portland, Ore.; and Redding, Calif.