Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley today announced key provisions that he secured in the Energy and Water Appropriations bill, with the support of Sen. Ron Wyden, to help Oregon communities.
“Fighting for Oregon’s priorities is my top responsibility as a member of the Appropriations Committee,” said Merkley, who serves on the committee. “From preventing the sale of Bonneville Power Administration and other public assets, to investing in innovative renewable energy like solar and wave, to supporting the coast’s small ports, this bill contains provisions that improve Oregon’s economies, quality of life, and future.”
“This bill achieves key wins for Oregon, including Donald Trump’s belated recognition that his misguided scheme to privatize BPA would have hurt ratepayers in the Northwest,” Wyden said. “In addition to being glad the White House has abandoned this BPA privatization madness, I am also gratified that Oregonians will benefit in this legislation from vital resources for small ports along the coast and smart investments in solar and wave energy.”
Merkley is the only Oregon member of Congress from either chamber since Senator Mark Hatfield to serve on the Appropriations Committee, considered to be one of the most powerful on Capitol Hill. He joined the committee in 2013 so that Oregon would have a strong voice in decisions about the investments our nation should be making.
Key elements of the legislation that will impact Oregon include:
Protecting Key Federal Assets in Oregon: For a second consecutive year, Merkley successfully fought to bar the transfer or sale of power marketing assets, including the Bonneville Power Administration — a top priority for Oregonians. Merkley also successfully prohibited the closure of Oregon’s Albany National Energy Technology Lab facility, which is working to discover, develop, and deploy new technologies to support a strong domestic fossil energy path.
Small Ports and Army Corps Navigation: The program, which Oregon ports rely on to help pay for dredging and other necessary infrastructure projects, received almost $600 million, including $50 million for inland waterways, $25 million for navigation maintenance, and $50 million for small ports, which supports the small ports that are the lifeblood of Oregon’s coastal economy.
Water Conservation and Habitat Restoration: The WaterSmart program received $34 million to fund projects that will help irrigation districts comply with the Endangered Species Act and that support collaborative approaches and reduce conflict, including litigation. The WaterSmart program could support the collaborative process that is underway within Central Oregon to conserve water, improve habitat for endangered steelhead and the spotted frog, and keep Central Oregon family farms in business.
Tribal Housing: The report includes language acknowledging the Army Corps’ mission, and instructing the Corps to uphold its responsibility to tribes that were displaced by the construction of the Dalles Dam on the Columbia River, and mitigate the impact of that displacement. Merkley, along with Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Oregon colleagues in both the Senate and House, have been fighting to address the urgent need for adequate housing along the Columbia River.
Community Solar: Merkley secured $5 million to restart the Department of Energy’s National Community Solar Partnership, a program designed to expand solar energy access to new markets and communities.
Wave Energy Research and Development: Merkley secured at least $5 million for the Oregon State University Wave Energy Test Facility, which will be the first in-water, grid-connected wave energy test facility in the country advancing technology that has the potential to provide long-term, clean energy.
Electric Vehicle Deployment: Merkley secured $37.8 million for the deployment of electric vehicles through the Clean Cities Program, to support cities installing more electric vehicle charging infrastructure and getting more electric vehicles on the road.
Willamette Locks: A final Disposition Study on the Willamette Falls Navigation Canal and Locks in Clackamas County is funded and well underway, but needs additional funds to be completed. Language was included in the bill to allow in-process Disposition of Completed Projects studies to receive funding, including Willamette Locks.
Scoggins Dam: Scoggins Dam received $2 million for upgrades. Scoggins Dam has been classified as one of the most seismically at-risk dams that the Bureau of Reclamation manages. This classification means that failure of the dam due to a large earthquake could result in significant damages or even loss of life to communities if the dam is not upgraded. The report also included language urging the Bureau of Reclamation to consider other benefits like increased water supply in addition to public safety.
SuperTruck II: Merkley secured $25 million for five awards to further improve the efficiency of heavy-duty trucks through cost-effective technologies. The program enables to develop and deploy cutting-edge vehicle technologies, including advanced batteries and electric drive systems, to reduce fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions in the transportation sector.
Energy Storage: Merkley secured $41 million for energy storage research and development, with a particular focus on grid-scale applications. This important funding for energy stage research and development ensures stability, reliability, resilience of the U.S. electricity grid as the country deploys and integrates more renewable energy.
The bill was voted out of committee yesterday. The next step is a full Senate vote, and eventually merging with a counterpart bill from the U.S. House of Representatives in order to be passed by both houses and signed into law.