At Oregon U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley’s invitation, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael S. Regan visited Oregon on Thursday, Aug. 11, to see first-hand how communities in the state are handling climate chaos. Along with Oregon’s U.S. Senator Ron Wyden and Oregon Governor Kate Brown, Senator Merkley and Administrator Regan visited a community farm in Gresham to discuss the impacts of extreme heat, and announced new investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that will support toxics reduction in the Columbia River.
“Oregon is facing very real impacts from climate chaos. You don’t need to look much farther than record-setting heat waves and the mega wildfires and droughts. This weekend, the Senate passed historic investments in the Inflation Reduction Act to transition to clean energy and create high-quality union jobs while we do it,” said Merkley, whose Good Jobs for 21st Century Energy Act provided the base for tax incentives for union jobs in clean energy projects. “Today’s visit shed light on how community farms are adapting to extreme heat, but they can’t keep up if we let climate chaos spiral out of control. That’s why bold climate action is so critical at this juncture in history. This will build on the success of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to invest in communities and regions and make a real impact in addressing climate chaos.”
“Under the leadership of President Biden, EPA is taking decisive action to protect public health and the environment for Oregonians and people across the nation,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Thanks to Senator Merkley’s leadership, we passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, investing billions in important work like the restoration of the Columbia River Basin, and we’re poised to make historic investments to combat the climate crisis through the Inflation Reduction Act, which will deliver relief to families dealing with the devastating impacts of our greatest climate challenges.”
At Mudbone Grown Farm in Gresham, the leaders discussed the difficulties of farming in a changing climate, including extreme heat. During the walk through the farm, Senator Merkley and Administrator Regan observed the farm’s operations and the importance of planting trees in Metro neighborhoods that need it most to combat high temperatures.
At Broughton Beach in Portland, Administrator Regan, Senators Merkley and Wyden, along with Tribal and State Leaders, announced a $79 million investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to protect and restore the Columbia River Basin. The announcement includes $6.9 million in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Clean Water Act grants to be awarded this year for projects to reduce toxics in fish and water and address climate impacts in communities throughout the Columbia River Basin. The work is taking place as part of the federal Columbia River Basin Restoration Program, which Merkley fought to create.
“With the Senate passage of landmark climate legislation only days ago, today’s visit to Oregon by EPA’s top official is timely to discuss how this groundbreaking response dovetails with local efforts to reduce the climate crisis’ devastating heat impact on Oregon,” said Wyden, whose Clean Energy for America Act reforming the tax code to provide incentives to emissions reductions comprised the linchpin of the Inflation Reduction Act. “I’m glad Administrator Regan could see Oregonians’ work firsthand and gratified that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law I was proud to support will help reduce toxins in the Columbia River Basin.”
“I’d like to thank Administrator Regan for his time in Oregon today to discuss the impacts that our communities are facing due to the climate crisis,” said Governor Brown. “Today’s discussions with community members, local government leaders, and community-based organizations reinforced the need for a collaborative approach to climate action. But we also need action at the federal level. I’d like to thank Senator Merkley and Senator Wyden for their work on the Senate passage of the Inflation Reduction Act—we are one step closer to significant investments that will further our work to reduce the impacts of climate change.”