Wins for Water: Merkley and Wyden Announce Boost in Water Conservation, Small Ports, and Renewable Energy in 2024 Funding Package

Funding included in the FY24 minibus appropriations package champions renewable energy and energy storage, small ports, fisheries, and more.

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden today announced major investments to enhance water infrastructure and conservation and supercharge renewable energy projects in Oregon—including over $12.5 million in funding for 8 critical community-initiated projects across the state—have passed through the fiscal year 2024 (FY24) minibus funding package. This six-bill package cleared both chambers of Congress last week and was quickly signed into law by President Biden.

Successfully pushing back against the most extreme funding cuts and harmful policy provisions proposed by House Republicans, Merkley and Wyden secured the investments in the FY24 Energy and Water Development (E&W) bill in the funding package.

The E&W portion also supports programs and projects to enhance water infrastructure, small ports, and fisheries and strengthen Oregon’s commitment to combatting climate chaos with renewable energy. These actions will all boost job creation—particularly in rural, coastal, and underserved communities.

“As I hold a town hall in each of Oregon’s 36 counties every year, I hear firsthand from folks about what matters most to them, including the need to strengthen our water infrastructure, build drought resilience, protect our wildlife and ecosystems, and move the state faster toward a renewable energy future,” Merkley said. “The funding included in these bills for programs and critical community-initiated projects will benefit Oregonians in every corner of the state for years to come.”

“These pivotal federal investments will strengthen ports that generate jobs for Oregonians, help communities advance toward a green energy future and protect fish native to our state,” Wyden said. “I’m gratified the teamwork with Oregonians who shared their priorities with me and Senator Merkley in town halls and other settings has produced such comprehensive benefits for our entire state.”

Merkley is the only Oregon member of Congress from either chamber since Senator Mark Hatfield to serve on the Appropriations Committee, which is one of the most powerful committees 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.

The 8 community-initiated projects championed by Merkley and Wyden that passed in the E&W portion of the FY24 minibus funding package are as follows:

  • $4 million for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), on behalf of Columbia River Ports, for dredging and maintaining environmental compliance of pile dike systems. 
  • $2.929 million for the Cole Rivers Hatchery in Jackson County for repairs to the fresh water supply system. This will prevent the complete failure of and loss of fish at the hatchery, as well as help create a more climate-resilient hatchery that meets its mitigation obligations, reliably sustains regionally important fisheries and economies, and plays a key role in conservation programs for at-risk native fish populations. 
  • $1.85 million for the Bonneville Environmental Foundation to support innovative canal-mounted projects for rural solar. This will help reduce both electricity costs and water loss through evaporation in the Klamath Basin. 
  • $940,000 for USACE, on behalf of the City of Portland, to help restore a site in Tryon Creek. This waterway is a 7-mile stream home to threatened native fish including steelhead and cutthroat trout, Coho and Chinook salmon, as well as Pacific and western brook lamprey. 
  • $900,000 for Parrott Creek Child & Family Services to help achieve Net Zero Status and enhance resilience. This project will install a 146kw solar array and battery system at their renovated campus in rural Clackamas County.
  • $748,000 for the USACE, on behalf of Port of Garibaldi, for pipeline dredging in the Tillamook Bay and Bar. This funding will specifically be used to dredge the part of the federal navigation channel that provides vessel access to the marina. 
  • $720,000 to the USACE, on behalf of Port of Coos Bay, to dredge river mile 12-15 to the authorized depth in the Port. This is critical for maintaining safe navigation and economic activity at the Port and for the entire region.   
  • $500,000 to the USACE, on behalf of The Dalles Lock and Dam, to fund continued work toward the creation of a Villages Development Plan for multiple sites along the Columbia River.  

For quotes from community-initiated project recipients included in the E&W portion of the FY24 minibus funding package, click HERE. economic

Other key funding in the E&W portion includes:

Army Corp Navigation Maintenance: The USACE navigation maintenance programs will receive additional funding of over $600 million for deep-draft harbor and channel improvements, $14million for inland waterways, over $42 million for navigation maintenance, and $178 million for small, remote, and subsistence navigation.

Water Conservation and Habitat Restoration: The WaterSmart program received $54 million to fund projects that will help irrigation districts comply with the Endangered Species Act. The WaterSmart program has supported the collaborative process in Central Oregon launched by legislation written by Merkley and former Congressman Greg Walden to conserve water, improve habitat for endangered steelhead and the spotted frog, and keep Central Oregon family farms in business.

Expanding Renewable Energy: This bill includes $318 million for solar energy technologies, $137 million for wind energy, and $16 million for distributed wind, which is the use of smaller wind turbines that help offset emissions from homes, public buildings, and businesses. The bill also includes $200 million for waterpower, including $141 million for marine energy which will support ongoing research at Oregon State University.

Electric Vehicle Deployment: This bill provides $450 million for vehicle technologies, including $190 million for battery and electrification technologies.

Energy Storage: The E&W bill includes $20 million for energy storage research and development. This important funding ensures stability, reliability, and resilience of the U.S. electricity grid as the country deploys and uses more renewable energy.

With half of the key government funding bills for FY24 now passed by Congress and signed into law, Merkley and Wyden will keep working to ensure the remaining six funding bills follow suit later this month without steep cuts to programs and projects Oregon families rely on. Passing these bills is necessary to avoid a partial government shutdown that would be harmful to communities across the state and nation.