November 14, 2017

Wyden, Merkley, DeFazio Urge Trump Administration to Set Aside Flawed Mineral Withdrawal Review

Members “Set the Record Straight” on SW Oregon Mineral Withdrawal in letter to Agriculture and Interior Departments

Washington, D.C. – Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Rep. Peter DeFazio today urged the Trump administration not to pursue a misguided and misinformed request to review mineral withdrawals from the past eight years, including one in Southwestern Oregon.

Wyden, Merkley and DeFazio wrote to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, urging them not to act on a recent request from House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop, R-Utah, to review all mineral withdrawals from the past eight years.

The Oregon lawmakers noted Bishop’s request “is filled with factual errors and flawed assumptions” about the Southwestern Oregon Mineral Withdrawal. Specifically, they pointed to the law that allows mineral withdrawals like this one, contrary to the claim the withdrawal was “illegal.”

“Any suggestion that the Southwestern Oregon Mineral Withdrawal is without merit does a disservice to the extensive investment of time and resources involved,” the lawmakers wrote. “We strongly urge you not to act on this request and to preserve the integrity of what has clearly been a legitimate and open public process to conserve natural resources of national significance.

Wyden, Merkley and DeFazio introduced the Southwestern Oregon Watershed and Salmon Protection Act in 2015 to protect the area from development. At the end of last year, the Obama administration withdrew more than 100,000 acres near the Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area from mineral development following extensive public comment periods over several years that produced more than 45,000 supportive comments from local city council members, tribal leaders, county commissioners and recreation business leaders.

Read the letter here.