WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congressman Walden, R-Ore., has placed funding in the Energy and Water Appropriations bill moving through the House for the Umatilla Basin Project, the Port of Umatilla, and an environmental restoration study for the Walla Walla River.
"The basin project, the port, and the health of the Walla Walla River are all important projects with strong local support in Umatilla County," Walden said. "I will continue to work with my colleagues in the House and Senate to ensure that these funds reach the local projects that deserve them so much."
The Port of Umatilla and the Umatilla Basin Water Supply Project each would receive $500,000 and $200,000 would be dedicated to completing an environmental restoration study on the Walla Walla River.
Andrew Whelan, Walden's press secretary, said the big hurdle was getting the earmarks in the bill in the first place.
The money for the port would contribute toward an incremental expansion of the biodiesel facility at Pendleton Grain Growers' McKennon Station. It also would assist the Port of Umatilla with the shipping and transportation aspects of the project.
"The Port of Umatilla is very pleased with the opportunity this appropriation represents to our local growers," said Kim Puzey, the port's general manager. "As local growers increase their acreage of canola, we hope to be able to expand the processing capability ... . In time, we anticipate a five-million-gallon-per-year biodiesel plant entirely supported by local canola. The Canola meal by-products of this plant could be entirely utilized by local livestock producers. The biodiesel could be sold locally or in the Portland metro area."
The half million for the Umatilla Basin Water Supply Project would allow the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to finish its supply study on time in 2008. The Umatilla Basin Water Supply Study has been requested and is being supported by the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, the state, Westland Irrigation District and other parties in the Umatilla Basin.
"This is great news," said Antone Minthorn, chairman of the CTUIR board of trustees. "Congressman Walden is to be commended for his leadership and his unyielding commitment to resolve the water supply problems in the Umatilla Basin and for the Confederated Umatilla Tribes. Hearing yesterday that Congressman Walden was successful in getting this congressional appropriation for the Umatilla Basin is just the kind of positive news we need to move forward with speed and resolve to address our most pressing water supply and economic development needs."
Mike Wick, manager of the Westland Irrigation District, likewise was pleased.
"This is great news for Westland Irrigation District and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation as we partner together seeking long-term water solutions in the Umatilla Basin," he said.
The $200,000 dedicated to completing an environmental restoration study on the Walla Walla River drew praise from Brian Wolcott, Walla Walla Basin Watershed Council director.
"We are very pleased the House has included planning funds essential for our farms, local communities, and federally listed fish species," he said.
Walden represents the Oregon's Second Congressional District, comprises 20 counties in eastern, central, and southern Oregon. He is co-chair of the House Rural Health Care Coalition.