This article was published on: 08/9/21 4:47 PM
The Energy and Water appropriations bill will send resources to communities across Oregon to support renewable energy, small ports, irrigation districts, and more
Spotlight on the Deschutes Basin
Senator Merkley was able to use his position on the Senate Energy & Water Appropriations Subcommittee to protect funding for the WaterSMART program, which is used in Central Oregon to help support water conservation projects like large canal piping and the development of a water marketing strategy.
Read Senator Merkley’s Full Press Release
Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley today announced that he secured key provisions that will help create jobs and deliver essential services in Oregon communities in the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Energy and Water appropriations bill.
“Every year, I look to the Senate appropriations process to help Oregonians complete projects and support their communities, creating jobs and better access to essential services,” said Merkley. “This bill includes many bipartisan investments in things like renewable energy and energy storage—which Oregonians need to build a foundation for long-term prosperity—as well as support for other projects that will have positive impacts in the near future, like dredging our small ports, restoring dams and canal locks, and crucial drought relief funding. I will continue to use my seat on this committee to push for the resources that will make a difference for Oregonians.”
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:
- Drought relief: In light of the unprecedented drought conditions in Oregon, Senator Merkley was able to secure $450 million in emergency appropriations for drought relief, to be allocated by the Secretary of Interior.
- Small Ports and Army Corps Navigation: The program, which is vital source of funding to help Oregon ports pay for dredging and other necessary infrastructure projects, received over $172 million for deep-draft harbor and channel improvements, $25 million for inland waterways, $40 million for navigation maintenance, and $60 million for small ports, which supports the small ports that are the lifeblood of Oregon’s coastal economy. This funding was not included in the President’s Budget and Senator Merkley fought to restore it.
- Water Conservation and Habitat Restoration: The WaterSmart program received $48 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 to conserve water, improve habitat for endangered steelhead and the spotted frog, and keep Central Oregon family farms in business.
- Expanding Renewable Energy: Merkley fought to increase funding for renewable energy research. The bill includes $205 million for wind energy, a $90 million increase, and $10 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 $195 million, a $45 million increase, for water power research, which will support ongoing research at OSU, and a $20 million increase for solar power programs.
- Electric Vehicle Deployment: Merkley secured an increase of $233 million for sustainable transportation research, including $60 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.
- SuperTruck III: Merkley secured $40 million 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 $139 million, which is a $60 million increase compared to last year and above the President’s request, for energy storage research and development, with a particular focus on grid-scale applications. This important funding ensures stability, reliability, and resilience of the U.S. electricity grid as the country deploys and uses more renewable energy.
- National Energy Technology Lab (NETL) in Albany: Merkley secured language prohibiting the closure of the NETL lab sites, including the facility in Albany. The bill also includes $70 million for infrastructure upgrades at NETL lab facilities.
The next step for the bill 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.
In addition to the funding allotments above, Merkley secured federal funding for eleven projects throughout Oregon. Those funds and projects include:
- $34,800,000 secured to support efforts by the Army Corps of Engineers to address the lack of fish passage at Willamette Valley dams.
- $32,720,000 headed to the Port of Coos Bay, to fix the North Jetty, which poses dangers annually to fishermen.
- $6,200,000 headed to Clackamas County to fund work necessary to repair the Willamette Falls Locks to functional status. The locks were decommissioned in 2011 due to mechanical issues.
- $5,000,000 secured to help install Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition and Automation devices—which help improve water conservation and irrigation efficiency – throughout the Klamath Project.
- $1,819,000 secured for Cole Rivers Hatchery Repair and Modernization in Curry County, to go toward the revitalization of the Cole Rivers Hatchery Program.
- $1,500,000 headed to Forth to purchase and test 12 electric tractors, with a minimum of three farms per vehicle during a period of 24 months, for a total of 36 test sites throughout Oregon.
- $1,300,000 headed to the Scoggins Dam in Tualatin, to fund a feasibility study examining the municipal and industrial water supply, water quality, and agricultural irrigation in order to support construction on the dam.
- $1,200,000 to fund the ongoing efforts to identify sites for tribal housing near The Dalles.
- $732,000 headed to the City of Portland for the Army Corps’ Lower Willamette Environmental Dredging and Ecosystem Restoration Project.
- $344,000 secured for Verde, a Portland-based environmental justice nonprofit, to support the organization’s Cully Community Solar Pilot program, which is helping to lower energy costs by transitioning to solar energy.
- An additional $301,000 secured for Verde, to support the organization’s work to help Oregonians transition away from bulk fuels, such as wood stoves and oil furnaces, and natural gas heating to more sustainable, reliable alternatives. The funding will also help expand access to Verde’s program among communities outside of Portland.
“These dollars are an integral part of helping the Army Corps of Engineers complete their work before they can transfer Willamette Falls Locks to a new owner, which was just created by the State of Oregon,” said Clackamas County Commissioner Martha Schrader.“This work has been long in the making, and I’m proud of our Senators’ leadership to see it included in the Senate’s appropriation bill.”
“The North Jetty, which maintains the safety of the Coos Bay bar crossing for mariners has receded nearly 1,000’ from its original build design,” said John Burns, CEO of the Port of Coos Bay. “Senator Merkley has championed funding to extend the jetty by approximately 150’-200’ and stabilize the head, trunk, and root system. This is truly critical maritime infrastructure to maintain safety within the harbor, and to promote future commerce and economic development for the region and state. We are extremely grateful to Senator Merkley for his ongoing efforts.”
“American farmers depend on tractors and other equipment, and right now that equipment depends on expensive diesel fuel with prices that can vary wildly. Diesel equipment is also highly polluting, and a major cause of climate change, which in turn makes life harder for those farmers,” said Jeff Allen, Executive Director of Forth. “This important project will demonstrate how a shift to electric tractors and farming equipment can help farmers save money and improve their operations while protecting their health and fighting climate change. We commend Senator Merkley, the farmers of Oregon, Sustainable Northwest, and our many other project partners for their leadership and innovation.”
“Now, more than ever, we need better science and engineering solutions to protect infrastructure and adapt to climate change,” said Dan Cox, CH2M-Hill Professor of Civil Engineering at Oregon State University. “The Senate Committee on Appropriations’ FY2022 investment in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Coastal Inlet Research Program recognizes this importance. We appreciate the support and efforts from Senator Merkley in his role on the committee to increase investment in this program to help improve coastal community resilience to climate change.”
“In this day it seems we’re losing much of our Oregon Natural Resources. Our strong Southcoast Salmon and Trout Recovery quest looms larger than ever,” said Court Boice, Chair of the Curry County Oregon Commissioners. “Senator Merkley and his staff have worked very hard and understand how critical these paths are. The Cole Rivers Hatchery Repair and Modernization Project will vault us into the next important steps of enhancing and protecting our Anadromous Fish runs. This is a very good day for our three Rogue River Basin counties.”
“Senator Merkley is helping secure a lifeline for Oregon’s Willamette River Chinook salmon and steelhead,” said Marlies Wierenga, Pacific Northwest Conservation Manager for WildEarth Guardians. “The Columbia River Fish Mitigation Funds provides critical investments in actions, research, monitoring and restoration that contribute to the recovery of these culturally important species. We are excited to see this much needed boost in funding.”
“Verde is thrilled and honored to be on the path toward potentially receiving generous funding for community energy projects, thanks to the leadership of Senator Merkley as a member of the Appropriations Committee and support from Senator Wyden. These investments demonstrate that our federal government is ready to support community-scale projects that make a difference in the lives of the people, like those in the Cully neighborhood in Portland, who are most impacted by converging public health, economic, and climate crises. We also hope to see broader funding to support this work in the forthcoming infrastructure package so that many more communities across the nation can replicate successful community energy and resiliency projects,” said Candace Avalos, Executive Director, Verde.
“Senator Merkley knows that the Klamath Basin need tools and resources to get to a better, more stable place,” said Paul Simmons, Executive Director of Klamath Water Users Association. “For everything from irrigation modernization to effective fisheries protection and recovery, he is a consistent champion, and we are grateful for this important measure.”