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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: https://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

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.

Sep 18, 2019 Press Release

Washington, D.C. — At a hearing today before the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Peter DeFazio (D-OR), challenged Assistant Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Dave Ross, about the Trump administration’s recent actions to roll back clean water rules, and the impact those decisions will have for years to come.

Sep 16, 2019 Press Release

Washington, DC – Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Congressman Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) introduced H.R. 4306, legislation requiring a comprehensive review into the transport of liquified natural gas (LNG) by rail tank car within the United States.

Sep 10, 2019 Press Release

Washington, DC—U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) introduced legislation today to put pressure on Brazil to combat the record number of wildfires burning in the Amazon rainforest.

May 2, 2019 Press Release

Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) today re-introduced with Rep. Matt Gaetz bipartisan legislation, the Chemical Poisons Reduction Act of 2019, also known as “Canyon’s Law,” to ban the use of two lethal poisons for predator control purposes.

Feb 26, 2019 Press Release

Today the House passed a major public lands bill that included several provisions authored by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) that would protect several critical salmon and steelhead habitats in southwestern Oregon and designate more than 30,000 acres of public land as Wilderness.

Feb 8, 2019 Press Release

Rep. Peter DeFazio this week reintroduced four bills that would protect several critical salmon and steelhead habitats in southwestern Oregon and designate more than 30,000 acres of public land as Wilderness.

Oct 24, 2018 Press Release

Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) and Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) today sent a letter to Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke decrying House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop’s efforts to overturn the Southwestern Oregon Mineral Withdrawal.