Mobile Menu - OpenMobile Menu - Closed

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: 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 11, 2021 Press Release

Today, Representatives Peter DeFazio (OR-04), Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and Jared Huffman (CA-02), Chair of the Natural Resources Water, Oceans, and Wildlife Subcommittee and member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, sent a letter to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan urging him to use his authorities granted by the Clean Water Act to protect Bristol Bay, Alaska, from the disastrous proposed Pebble Mine project.

Feb 26, 2021 Press Release

The U.S. House of Representatives today passed legislation authored by Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) to make permanent a ban on new mining projects in some of Southwest Oregon’s most fragile and critically important areas, home to pristine fish habitat, clean drinking water, rare plants, and a thriving recreation and tourism economy.

DeFazio’s legislation was included as part of H.R. 803, Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act

Feb 12, 2021 Press Release

Rep. Peter DeFazio yesterday re-introduced legislation to make permanent a twenty-year ban on new mining projects in the Pistol River and Rough and Ready Creek watersheds in southwest Oregon.

Nov 25, 2020 Press Release

Washington, DC - Today, Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) released the following statement after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced its decision on the Pebble Mine Project in Bristol Bay, Alaska, denying the permit.

Oct 27, 2020 Press Release

Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) sent a letter to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist, expressing his concern with the Trump administration’s rule to roll back limits on discharges of toxic wastewater from coal-fired power plants. 

Jul 22, 2020 Press Release

Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) today voted in support of H.R. 1957, the Great American Outdoors Act, to provide permanent, full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and establish the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund.  The legislation passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 310-107.

Feb 4, 2020 Press Release

Following President Trump’s rollback of critical clean water protections, Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) today invited Joe Moll, Executive Director of the McKenzie River Trust, to the State of the Union Address as his guest.

Oct 23, 2019 Press Release

Washington, D.C. —Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04), today in an oversight hearing examining the impacts of the Pebble Mine Project, criticized the project as a sham and a shell game, pointing to inflated job-creation numbers, wishful claims of environmental protection on a project unprecedented in scale, and the absence of financial viability of the project.  DeFazio also criticized the U.S.

Oct 22, 2019 Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC—U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio today was joined by a bipartisan group of 72 members in a letter to House Leadership urging Congress to reauthorize the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) Program for at least two years.

Sep 18, 2019 Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC—U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) today joined Juliana v. United States youth plaintiffs, and Swedish climate activist, Greta Thunberg at the United States Supreme Court to call on Americans to participate in the Global Climate Strike on September 20, 2019 and urge leaders to take immediate action to address the climate crisis. In March, DeFazio backed the youth plaintiffs and their landmark constitutional climate lawsuit by filing an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.