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Rep. Greg Walden`s Oregon Congressional Connection 6/22/12
 
Dear KBC,
Congratulations to Jeremiah Noonan of The Dalles for winning the annual Congressional art competition for Oregonís Second District. The nationwide competition is open each year to high school students across the country. One piece of art is chosen from each congressional district for display in the U.S. Capitol.

Jeremiah is a junior at The Dalles-Wahtonka High School. I got a chance to say hello to him and his mother, Lori, when they were in the nationís capital to attend a reception honoring the art winners from across the country:

The contest opens up each year in the Spring, so if you or someone you know might be interested, be sure to keep an eye on my art competition page for more details.

Providing certainty to Oregonís ranchers

Earlier this week, the House approved commonsense legislation that would boost certainty for ranchers dealing with grazing permits on federal land.

The Grazing Improvement Act (H.R. 4234) would not only streamline the process for renewing permits, but also double their duration. As a cosponsor of the plan, I helped lead a bipartisan majority to pass the language on Tuesday.

Uncertainty stifles innovation and investment. After years of facing bureaucratic delays and uncertainty, this bill would allow Oregon ranchers to focus on investing in their businesses, creating jobs, and responsibly managing the land.

If passed by the Senate and signed into law, the grazing legislation would extend the duration of BLM and USFS grazing permits from 10 years to 20 years. To give ranchers greater certainty, it would codify provisions that Congress usually must renew annually to allow continued grazing on allotments while agencies work to complete the permit renewal process. Finally, it would allow federal agencies more flexibility to use categorical exclusions when issuing and renewing grazing permits.

The Oregon Cattlemenís Association cheered the passage too. Hereís what Bob Skinner, the public lands chair for the association, said:

ďOut here where more than half the land is publicly owned, our communities depend on ranchersí ability to stay on the land and continue our tradition of good management and production. Weíre creating jobs and paying taxes so our kids have a fair shot at an education. This bill takes away that annual uncertainty of whether can turn out each year because of a bloated bureaucratic paperwork process thatís entangled in environmental litigation.Ē

Protecting the Northwestís $1 billion investment

Each year, Northwest residents invest about $1 billion in protecting the endangered Columbia River salmon.

So it doesnít make any sense to sit back and watch predatory sea lions feast on a salmon buffet at the base of Bonneville Dam year after year. Federal agencies and tribes have tried every deterrent short of lethal removal and none have proved to be sufficient.

On Tuesday the House passed a bipartisan plan (H.R. 3069, which I cosponsored) to protect the major investment by allowing states and tribes to lethally remove predatory sea lions that consume thousands of endangered salmon at the base of the dam.

In April 2012, after determining that non-lethal means of deterrence had failed, the Obama Administration authorized Oregon, Washington, and Idaho to lethally remove California sea lions in those states between the months of March and May.

In 2005 and 2006, I joined then-Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA) and Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA) in holding bipartisan regional forums, including one in Pendleton, Ore., to explore ways to improve the survival of adult salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River system.

The bill that the House passed on Tuesday is sponsored by six House members from the Northwest, including Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.). It now heads to the Senate.

BPA loses a dedicated servant and leader

On Tuesday, longtime Bonneville Power Administration official Steve Wright announced that after more than 30 years with BPA, he would be retiring.

As the organizationís Administrator for the past decade, he displayed strong leadership qualities that allowed BPA to juggle and manage the many competing interests in the region. Most importantly, he never forgot his most important charge: looking out for the rate paying customers of BPA.

I thank him for his many years of service and dedication to the Pacific Northwest, and wish him the very best in the future.

Commonsense hydropower, Internet freedom legislation advances in committee

Finally, a quick update on a couple bills that Iíve been following closely.

H.Con.Res. 127, which I told you about in the last e-newsletter, expresses that the Internet should remain free from international regulationófrom the United Nations or otherwise. The legislation passed unanimously in the Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday. The Internet has thrived not only as an economic engine but also as a space of free expression, largely because it has remained free of meddling by governments. Now is not the time to start taxing consumers and businesses for Internet traffic that crosses international borders.

The committee also passed the bipartisan Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act (H.R. 5892), authored by our neighbor across the Columbia River, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers. The bill will help facilitate the development of new hydropower projects across the country by reducing red tape and streamlining the permitting process. Hydropower is largest renewable electricity source in the United States, and new hydropower development has the potential to create 700,000 new jobs over the next 14 years.

The next step for both of these bills is a vote on the House floor.

Thatís all for now. Have a great rest of the week.

Best regards,
Greg Walden
U.S. Representative
Oregonís Second District

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