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Honorable Tim Walz

Representing the 1st District of MINNESOTA

Environment and Conservation

Animal Welfare | Climate Change | Coal Mining | Endangered Species | Environment | Environment Protection Agency | Keystone Pipeline | Land and Water Conservation | National Parks and Forests | Oil Drilling | Wildlife and Wilderness

Animal Welfare

Many residents of southern Minnesota have voiced their unease about the treatment of animals in research, trade, hunting, and agricultural affairs, and I share some of those concerns. 

I have firmly supported past legislation to ensure proper treatment of animals, including domestic welfare laws, conservation of wildlife, and recovery programs of several endangered species. For that reason, in March 2012, I sent a letter to the leadership of the House Appropriations Committee, asking them to ensure that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has the resources it needs to fully enforce important animal welfare laws, such as the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act and the Animal Welfare Act. 

Further, even though I am a strong supporter of technology and innovation, I do not believe that animal welfare should be sacrificed for this advancement. We need to find constructive, practical solutions that will continue to allow development without harming animals.

I feel strongly that all animals should be treated humanely and decently.

Climate Change

The overwhelming scientific consensus is that human activity has warmed the planet through the release of greenhouse gases and that, without swift action, we will continue to warm the planet to a point that will be harmful for human life. Furthermore, with an ever-increasing human population, it is more and more critical that we develop energy resources that are renewable and do not leave us dependent on countries halfway around the globe. Finally, as we recover from the worst economic crisis in decades, we need to develop the next generation of jobs that can help fuel our return to prosperity while also helping us to become energy independent, and to combat climate change. 

Since coming to Congress, I have pursued public policies that help us achieve these goals. I introduced a bipartisan energy bill that would represent one of the largest investments in renewable energy in history. In addition, I have supported legislation to restrict carbon emissions and create a free-market based system to incentivize the development of renewable energy, and introduced legislation that would encourage local ownership of wind energy turbines, creating homegrown jobs developing and servicing wind farms. I’ve also helped create farm and fuel legislation to help spur the next generation of biofuels, and shown my support for extending and expanding tax incentives for energy efficient appliances and automobiles.

As long as I serve in Congress, rest assured that I will do everything in my power to advocate for policies that invest in renewable energy, reverse the global warming trend, make us energy independent and create new, clean energy jobs.

Coal Mining

Coal is currently one of the main sources of electricity and fuel used by both American consumers and businesses. Coal is found in countries all around the world and provides long-term stability to energy production and low-cost electricity to the world.

The mining and use of coal, however, has generated serious debate amongst the energy and environmental communities. Even with modern safeguards in place to reduce its environmental imprint, issues like soil erosion, air, noise, and water pollution, and impacts to local biodiversity continue to challenge the future of coal production.

Southern Minnesotans are uniquely interested in both renewable and non-renewable energy resources, and I value your thoughts regarding coal mining activities. Should legislation on the issue of coal mining come before me for a vote, I will take your thoughts into consideration.

Endangered Species

Since its enactment in 1973, the ESA has been a vital tool in the conservation and restoration of threatened plants and animals across the U.S. In the case of the Bald Eagle in Minnesota, it has been extremely successful. There was a time when the Bald Eagle population was severely threatened in our state, but thanks in part to protection under the ESA the population has recovered dramatically. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) estimates a current Bald Eagle population of approximately 872 known nests. Currently, Minnesota is the state with the third largest breeding population in the US.

For the fiscal year of 2012, Congress approved $9.9 billion to fund the Department of the Interior, which is $720 million – or 7 percent – below the previous year’s level. The Fisheries and Wildlife Service (FWS) faced a greater cut of 21 percent, or $315 million. While this decrease is cause for concern, I joined 224 of my colleagues in adopting an amendment that would strike language in the bill barring the Fish and Wildlife Service from listing new species and habitats for protection under the Endangered Species Act.

This was a victory for the ESA in an incredibly polarized political environment, which leads me to believe that, despite the rhetoric, ESA's public support will continue to convince lawmakers that this is a program that must be preserved. For my part, I will continue to also work toward that preservation.

Environment

As both a hunter and a fisherman, I understand firsthand the importance of protecting the natural wonders of southern Minnesota and the United States. Our environment is a resource that we must use and protect responsibly. Furthermore, clean air and water is a right that every American is entitled to. During my time in Congress, I have sponsored and introduced legislation that supports wind energy, biofuel development, energy efficient homes and automobiles, and increased safety regulations for oil and gas companies to prevent future spills like that in the Gulf. 

I believe we can secure an environmental future for our children and grandchildren, but we have to act now. In our modern world, the environment, the economy, and energy go hand-in-hand. With this in mind, I led the House Bipartisan Energy Working Group with several colleagues from both sides of the aisle. Our group came together to draft legislation called the Infrastructure Jobs and Energy Independence Act, H.R. 1861. This bill encourages investment in renewable energy, environmental restoration, conservation efforts, clean water and wastewater infrastructure, and carbon-free technology. Not only does our legislation support efforts to improve the environment, but it creates American jobs as well. Green jobs that can’t be outsourced are a major part of our economic recovery. 

I also want to make sure that taxpayer dollars are contributing to the preservation of our natural lands, not the destruction. We can conserve native prairie and grasslands while saving taxpayers millions of dollars, which is the aim of legislation I recently co-sponsored, the Protect Our Prairies Act.  This bipartisan bill would reduce crop insurance assistance for farming on native sod and grasslands.  It is an economically sound way to conserve our wildlife.

Environmental Protection Agency

The EPA was originally created in 1970 to ensure that our children and grandchildren will have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink. I think we all agree this goal is one we should strive for, but I understand southern Minnesotans may have disagreement on how to get there.

As you may know, the EPA currently monitors minimum standards for greenhouse gases (GHG) produced by automobiles and stationary sources (power plants, petroleum refineries, and non-road vehicles and engines), an authority found to be constitutional by the Supreme Court in 2007. The EPA also strives to improve water quality, uses research to identify and solve environmental problems, and cleans up toxic waste, among other responsibilities.

I have heard from a number of business owners and farmers who are concerned that the EPA is overstepping their boundaries and unnecessarily making it more difficult to operate their small business or farm. On the flip side, I have heard from a number of individuals who argue that EPA has not been allowed to do their work because of legislative roadblocks. I understand these concerns and believe we need to continue to work together to make sure our environmental regulations are reasonable and common sense. The EPA clearly has a job to do, but, as Members of Congress, it is our job to provide oversight of EPA's efforts to ensure that they are not overly burdensome while providing them the opportunity to operate as a science-based agency charged with keep both our air and water clean.

This year, a number of bills and amendments have been introduced which seek to address certain aspects of EPA regulation. Recently, I opposed H.R. 3, the “Northern Route Approval Act”, which would severely curtail the EPA’s environmental review process. I opposed this effort because it clearly infringed on EPA's core mandate. Another amendment, to the Farm Bill, would prohibit the EPA from disclosing private information of farmers and ranchers. This amendment passed easily, by voice vote, on the House floor. These are just a couple of examples of legislative activity addressing the EPA. As they come before us for consideration I will take your thoughts and opinions into account as I weigh the merits of each.

Keystone Pipeline

The Keystone XL Project is an extension to the Keystone pipeline that links oil supplies in Alberta, Canada through the Dakota's, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas.

I have always supported a broad based domestic energy portfolio. Right now, we’re sending $1 billion dollars a day to countries that hate us. That doesn’t make sense, they’ll hate us for free. While I have always supported a transition to new, clean energy technology, I know that will not happen overnight. We must continue to take significant steps towards an energy independent future by developing North American energy sources whether it be conventional or renewable.

I support the Keystone project. I also strongly believe the project must follow federally mandated environmental health and safety requirements and TransCanada must prove to us that they can move this fuel responsibly.

Recently H.R. 3, the Northern Route Approval Act came before the full House. While I support moving forward with the Keystone Pipeline, I voted against this legislation because I believe it went too far in eliminating safeguards and oversight that are designed to keep us safe and our communities healthy. Furthermore, the bill would give unprecedented rights to a foreign company, TransCanda, that American companies do not get. Ultimately the bill passed the House on a vote of 241-175. The President has vowed to veto H.R. 3 should it ever cross his desk.  

I will continue to monitor this project and support efforts to move it forward in a safe, efficient manner and will take your comments into consideration if this project comes before Congress again in the future.

Land and Water Conservation

As an avid outdoorsman, representing a rural district of unmatched natural beauty, I am distinctly aware of the importance of conservation programs designed to continue the vitality of our land and to provide opportunities for future generations to experience and enjoy these wild resources. Congress has a duty to create efficient and practical policy tools which help to achieve this ideal.

As you may know, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) remains one of Congress’s most vital and successful tools for increasing the protection of land and water resources. Because of the nature of the law, a cycle must be completed each year where the President proposes a budget, then Congress decides the amount of funds to appropriate, and finally the Department of Interior distributes those funds to the necessary conservation projects.

For FY 2014, I supported the President's funding request of $600 million for the LWCF. This request recognizes that even in a time when we must make significant cuts to the deficit, there are certain investments that we must maintain because they are effective and necessary.

As a parent with two young children who deserve wild and open space to grow and enjoy, I will continue to champion this worthy cause throughout my tenure as your Representative.

National Parks and Forests

The beauty of nature is a resource that we must use responsibly. The National Forest and Park Services provide invaluable service in ensuring that our lakes and rivers are clean and preserved for future generations.

If we were to weaken the protection of the wildlife in our National Forests and Parks, I believe that we would be making a grave mistake, with many unknown, unintentional, and perhaps irreversible consequences. My dedication towards protection is best demonstrated by the annual funding priorities I present to our Interior and the Environment Appropriations subcommittee. Year after year I have advocated robust funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, State and Tribal Wildlife Grants, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the National Park Service.

Oil Drilling

Recent spikes in fuel prices have had immediate and painful consequences for the nation. In rural areas like southern Minnesota, people rely on their vehicles to commute to work or even perform their jobs. The prices of goods in our stores can also be impacted by the extra costs associated with shipping. If we wish to put our economy back on track, we must find a way to fully and finally eliminate our dependency on foreign oil.

As we look for ways to make fuel more affordable, I believe we must develop our own resources, which includes increasing domestic oil production. We have several promising locations for doing this, both on land and offshore, that will minimize harm to the environment and wildlife. Given the time necessary for establishing new operations, we can afford to make sure that we choose responsible locations for drilling that will maximize production while minimizing the environmental impact.

As important as domestic oil production is to maintaining affordable fuel prices, it is equally as important to hold big oil companies to the highest of standards. As we have found out in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, lax regulations on big oil companies can produce disastrous consequences. I firmly believe such disasters are unacceptable and that big oil companies should not be allowed to cut corners that result in the loss of precious wildlife and damage the environment.

We cannot end our reliance on foreign oil overnight, but an increase in domestic production is a necessary first step. New drilling must be part of a more comprehensive domestic energy plan that lowers our demand over time while minimizing environmental impact and holding big oil companies accountable. Doing so will sustainably lower fuel costs, reduce our risk of harming the environment, and promote energy independence. Over the next few months, I will be working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to create policies that help us reach this goal.

Wildlife and Wildernerss Conservation

Like many other Southern Minnesotans, my family and I enjoy being outdoors with the many opportunities it provides for education, recreation, and solace. As an outdoorsman, I firmly believe that we have a duty to protect these resources for future generations. Additionally, as the Ranking Member of the Conservation, Energy, and Forestry Subcommittee, I am a strong supporter of conservation programs that play a crucial role in ensuring that our children and grandchildren can enjoy America’s wildlife and natural areas for years to come.

My work in Congress is in service to this ideal. Recently, Representative Kristi Noem and I sponsored H.R. 686, the Protect Our Prairies Act of 2013, which creates a nationwide “Sodsaver” provision that will create a disincentive to plant crops on marginal land, including native grass and prairie lands. These lands are rapidly disappearing, eliminating wildlife habitat and leaving behind weaker ecosystems. H.R. 686 has the support of the National Wildlife Federation among other wildlife conservation organizations.

Additionally, for FY 2014, I have requested appropriation funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and State/Tribal Wildlife Grants. The LWCF provides funds primarily for recreation and the protection of parks, forest and wildlife areas. The State and Tribal Wildlife Grant Program provides federal grant funds for developing and implementing programs that benefit wildlife and their habitats, with priority given to projects that benefit species in need of conservation. Many of these programs are already underfunded, and as a nation we cannot afford to further reduce spending that protects the natural areas we all enjoy. I will keep your views in mind when considering any future legislation that will affect our pristine wilderness and diverse wildlife.

 

More on Environment and Conservation

Apr 13, 2017 Press Release

LITTLE FALLS, MN – Today, U.S. Representative Tim Walz (MN-01) attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Camp Ripley to dedicate the Camp’s recently constructed solar array. The $25 million, 10-megawatt solar farm – Minnesota’s largest solar farm – is the result of a public-private partnership between the Minnesota National Guard and Minnesota Power.

Nov 17, 2016 Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Congress sent a bill this week to President Obama that would improve access to America’s National Forests through better trail maintenance and preservation.

The National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act would make better use of existing resources within the Forest Service to significantly increase the role of volunteers and partners in maintaining the usability and sustainability of the National Forest’s trail system.

Sep 14, 2016 Press Release

Washington, D.C.-Today H.R. 845, the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act, sponsored by U.S. Representatives Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) and Tim Walz (D-MN) passed the U.S. House Agriculture Committee unanimously.

Aug 14, 2015 Press Release

Prior to the potluck, Walz fished on Camp Creek with local Minnesota Trout Unlimited members

Preston, MN [8/14/15]—Today, Representative Tim Walz attended a potluck lunch with conservation leaders. Prior to the potluck, Walz fished on Camp Creek with local Minnesota Trout Unlimited members.

Jul 23, 2015 Press Release

Washington, DC [7/23/15] – Today, Congressman Tim Walz, Co-Chair of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, introduced bipartisan legislation to protect our natural state treasures and invigorate the outdoor economy. The Sportsmen’s Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Enhancement Act reauthorizes several proven, effective conservation measures to conserve critical hunting and fishing habitat.

Apr 14, 2015 Press Release

Washington, DC [4/14/15] – Today, U.S. Representative Tim Walz (D-MN), was awarded the National Environmental Achievement for Federal Public Service Award by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA).

“Having clean, affordable water is fundamental for our local communities to be successful. I’m incredibly honored and humbled to receive this award today, and will continue working with Republicans and Democrats to ensure our local communities’ water supply is abundant and protected,” Walz said.

Mar 19, 2015 Press Release

Public-Private partnership, led by the President, includes voluntary commitments from companies like GE, Honeywell, & IBM to tackle the issue

Feb 19, 2015 Press Release

Washington, DC [2/19/15]Today, Representative Tim Walz (D-MN) announced that he sent a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to support a thorough environmental analysis of BNSF Railway’s proposed expansion project in La Crosse, WI along the Mississippi River. Walz is eager to improve safety and relieve rail congestion, as the BNSF expansion project is intended to provide. He also wants to be certain our natural state treasures are protected to ensure the next generation can enjoy the great outdoors as we do today.

Feb 11, 2015 Press Release

Seek to solve trail maintenance backlog by streamlining volunteers’, trail guides’ maintenance efforts.

Jan 27, 2015 Press Release

Bipartisan caucus includes nearly 300 Members of Congress

Washington, DC [1/27/15] - Representative Tim Walz has been tapped to Chair the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC), a bipartisan group of nearly 300 Members of Congress.  Rep. Walz is joined by Co-Chair Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA) and Vice-Chairs Reps. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) and Gene Green (D-TX).