Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Senator Merkley Newsletter April 11, 2017

While the national spotlight is on the big fights over health care and the Supreme Court, Jeff has also been busy rolling up his sleeves for Oregon. Check out what Jeff has been doing to fight for Oregonians in March:
Sudden Oak Death has plagued Southwestern Oregon. The pathogen has killed hundreds of thousands of tanoak trees in Curry County -- a major hit to the local economy and environment. If we do not tackle this issue, Sudden Oak Death could spread to Coos County and Josephine counties, having potentially devastating impacts on these communities, as well.

These counties urgently need additional treatment and research completely contain the spread of Sudden Oak Death. That is why in early March, Jeff joined State Rep. David Brock Smith to co-convened a Sudden Oak Death task force,  ensuring these communities get the resources they need to combat the devastating disease. The task force brings together unique and expansive bi-partisan expertise on Sudden Oak Death. It will usecomprehensive, collaborative solutions to develop and implement science-based solutions, educate neighbors, preserve the environment, and save their economies.

Protecting the Coast Guard
In Oregon and across the country, the United States Coast Guard is essential to maintain maritime presence, respond to individual and national emergencies, and protect our nation’s economic and environmental interests. Along Oregon’s coast, the Coast Guard is literally a lifesaving resource. In just the past month in Oregon, the Coast Guard has rescued 2 stranded hikers on King’s Mountain; rescued a diver in Tillamook Bay;and rescued an injured crew member on a cargo vessel off the coast of Coos Bay.
When Trump proposed major cuts to the Coast Guard in his “skinny budget,” Jeff immediately leapt to action and called on Trump to back off of these devastating Coast Guard cuts. Jeff will not stop pushing to protect the Coast Guard.

In his Joint Address to Congress, Trump pledged to “promote clean air and water,” but shortly after proposed a 31 percent cut to the very agency that prevents pollution and keeps our air and water clean. Jeff responded by immediately leading 37 of his Senate colleagues to call for a reversal to these drastic cuts and support continued funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 
Anyone who remembers smog-choked Los Angeles of the ‘70s can appreciate the importance of putting limits on polluters. Oregonians depend on the EPA to protect public health and guarantee clean air, clean water, and protection from hazardous waste and contaminants. EPA grants are critical to help Oregon and other states and their citizens respond to crises like the lead contamination in Flint, Michigan’s water or, closer to home, the air pollution discovered in Portland.  For the sake of our health and economy, Jeff firmly believes that these proposed cuts cannot stand.

Improving safety and sanitation at Columbia River sites
Beginning in the 1930s, the construction of lower Columbia River dams displaced members of the four Columbia River Treaty tribes, who, like their forebears for centuries upon centuries, fished along the river. Despite promises to relocate them, for decades the tribes were left without the relocation assistance they needed. As a result, they were forced to live in extremely distressed, unsafe, and unsanitary conditions -- as Jeff saw firsthand when he visited the Lone Pine site.

Jeff has been working to right this historic wrong for tribes. This month marked a major victory: The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs gave bipartisan support to his Columbia River In-Lieu and Treaty Fishing Access Sites Improvement Act. The bill would improve the safety and sanitation at Columbia River tribal fishing sites that were supposed to have been replaced decades ago. Passing this bill out of committee with bipartisan support was a critical step, and Jeff will keep pushing to get it to the floor of the Senate and signed into law.

Thank you for reading -- and don't forget, you can see the latest updates by liking Jeff on Facebook and following Jeff on TwitterInstagram and nowSnapchat (code below). And be sure to check Merkley.senate.gov for more information on current events.