Curtis, Garamendi, Romney, Bennett Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Emergency Wildfire Cleanup Bill

Curtis, Garamendi, Romney, Bennett Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Emergency Wildfire Cleanup Bill

January 20,  2020

Washington, DC — Representative John Curtis (R-UT), Deputy Republican Leader of the National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands Subcommittee on the House Natural Resources Committee, along with Representative John Garamendi (D-CA) and Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) introduced the Making Access to Cleanup Happen (MATCH) Act.

In September 2019, Rep. Curtis hosted US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources and Environment Under Secretary James Hubbard and senior USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service officials in Utah County for a roundtable discussion with local elected leaders, state officials, and USDA Forest Service representatives. Among other topics, they discussed ways to address wildfire cleanup challenges and how to improve the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program. See [HERE] for more information.

Working with the USDA, Congressman Curtis was able to take the solutions from the roundtable and develop the MATCH Act, bipartisan legislation that will expedite disaster cleanup, save taxpayers money, and prevent further disasters.

“After a wildfire disaster, the land is left at its most vulnerable. Rehabilitation and protection efforts must be quickly implemented to guard against further damage, and in most cases, the workload continues to increase as a project waits for the federal government’s approval,” said Curtis. “I am proud to introduce the Making Access To Cleanup Happen (MATCH) Act to allow certain watershed rehabilitation work, carried out by a sponsor before the Emergency Watershed Protection project is approved, count toward the sponsor’s required financial contribution to the overall project. This change will allow communities the flexibility that they need to recover from wildfire more quickly without using any additional taxpayer dollars.”

“California is experiencing historically devastating wildfires with regularity and a year-long wildfire season. We must take forward-thinking steps to recover from wildfires as quickly as possible to support our communities. The MATCH Act takes critical steps to prioritize wildfire prevention and recovery, and I am proud to support this legislation,” Garamendi said.

“After seeing the many bureaucratic hurdles communities in Utah and Duchesne counties faced after the wildfires of 2018, Congressman Curtis and I are advocating on behalf of local leaders to streamline the mitigation process,” Romney said. “Our legislation will cut through the red tape that local communities face in the aftermath of wildfires to make it easier for them to recover.”

“Communities that take steps to mitigate damage in the wake of destructive fires deserve a reliable partner in the federal government. The Emergency Watershed Protection Program is a valuable tool for post-fire recovery in Colorado and throughout the West, but communities often face significant hurdles accessing funding quickly,” said Bennet. “This bipartisan, bicameral bill help relieve some of the burden on local project sponsors and improve the effectiveness of EWP for wildfire recovery.”

Statements of Support

Utah Governor Gary Herbert:

“As a former county commissioner myself, I applaud Senator Romney and Representative Curtis for their leadership in giving communities the tools to prevent or recover from wildfires. The first responsibility of county leaders is to protect their residents, and anything Congress can do to provide more flexibility for federal funds is a welcome improvement.”

Tanner Ainge, Chairman of the Utah County Commission:

“We are grateful for the work of Senator Romney and Congressman Curtis for their prompt and direct response to challenges we have been facing after the Bald Mountain and Pole Creek fires. This legislation will cut through the bureaucratic red tape we face and help our county and our impacted communities as they continue to recover from the damage caused by these fires.”

Ty Ellis, Mayor, Elk Ridge:

“The MATCH Act will eliminate the crippling delay we encountered after the Bald Mountain Fire. Had this been in place during last year’s fire season, we would be better equipped to handle the threats we will face this summer from wildfires. We appreciate Senator Romney and Congressman Curtis for hearing our concern and doing something about it.”

Kari Malkovich, Woodland Hills City Council Member:

“I appreciate the efforts of Congressman Curtis and Senator Romney in helping local communities recover from the aftermath of a natural disaster. The MATCH Act will greatly assist the city of Woodland Hills in our post-fire mitigation efforts as we prepare for potential flooding, debris flow, and mudslides after the devastating Bald Mountain/Pole Creek fires of 2018.”

Background

This bill will:

  • Direct the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to develop a list of watershed rehabilitation activities for potential EWP sponsors to carry out prior to project approval.
  • Direct the NRCS to establish a procedure for potential EWP sponsors to consult with state NRCS offices about additional pre-approval watershed rehabilitation work.
  • Ensure that those activities count towards the program’s required 25% sponsor match.

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In Light of White Mesa Uranium Mill Layoffs, Rep. Curtis Commits to Creating New Economic Opportunities in Rural Utah

In Light of White Mesa Uranium Mill Layoffs, Rep. Curtis Commits to Creating New Economic Opportunities in Rural Utah

January 16, 2020

Washington, DC— Rep. John Curtis (R-UT),  spoke on the House Floor in support of the residents of San Juan County, Utah in light of a round of layoffs at the White Mesa uranium mill. Changes in the global uranium market have affected mill operations with a result of 30% employees being let go. The mill is the largest private employer in San Juan County.

“This mill has provided families with good incomes and generated tax dollars to help the local infrastructure. In fact, this facility is the largest private employer in San Juan County. I am committed to creating new economic opportunities in rural areas. Rural Utahns deserve the same quality of life that their urban friends have, including access to broadband, quality medical care, and good-paying jobs. I will continue to work in Congress to bring these vital services to rural Utah. While it has been a difficult week for many in San Juan County, I know the community will be resilient and persevere.”

Full text of the speech, as prepared for delivery, is below:

“I rise today in support of hard-working Utahns in the uranium industry in San Juan County, and especially those who have recently lost their jobs at the White Mesa uranium mill and the La Sal uranium mine complex.

Unfortunately, foreign subsidization of uranium production has had a devastating impact on North American production and has affected the mill’s operations, and as a result, roughly 30% of the employees had to be let go at our nation’s last operating uranium mill.

In addition to producing critical minerals, this mill has provided families with good incomes and generated tax dollars to help the local infrastructure. In fact, this facility is the largest private employer in San Juan County.

Since my election to Congress, I have had the privilege to spend significant time in rural parts of Utah, including San Juan County. I appreciate rural Utah’s sense of community, and desire to help their neighbors during a time of need.

Unlike more urban parts of Utah with a business hiring on every corner, rural areas often have fewer economic opportunities. However, the hard work and entrepreneurial spirit I’ve observed among the residents of San Juan County make me confident they’ll successfully fight through this difficult time and ultimately come out stronger for it.

Additionally, I am committed to creating new economic opportunities in rural areas. Rural Utahns deserve the same quality of life that their urban friends have, including access to broadband, quality medical care, and good paying jobs.

I will continue to work in Congress to bring these vital services to rural Utah. While it has been a difficult week for many in San Juan County, I know the community will be resilient and persevere.”

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Curtis Designates “Martha Hughes Canon” Day; Establishes Women’s Advisory Council

Curtis Designates “Martha Hughes Canon” Day; Establishes Women’s Advisory Council

January 11, 2020

Washington, DC— Rep. John Curtis (R-UT), spoke on the House Floor after introducing a bipartisan resolution to designate January 11, 2020 as “National Martha Hughes Cannon Day.” The legislation also recognizes the value that women bring to good governance and encourages them to become involved in Federal, State, and local government.

Rep Curtis has also established a “Women’s Advisory Council” of female leaders in Utah with whom he will meet with regularly.

“Utah is lucky to be home to some of the most capable and influential female leaders in the nation, and that is nothing new. On January 11, 1897, 123 years ago, Dr. Martha Hughes Cannon was elected to the Utah State Senate, becoming the first woman in the country to hold the office,” said Curtis. “Because of her example, thousands of women have followed in her footsteps and served as local and national leaders. I am delighted to introduce a resolution dedicating January 11, 2020 as “National Martha Hughes Cannon Day,” to honor the path she paved for the many women who serve America today.”

Congressmen Bishop (UT-01), Stewart (UT-02), and McAdams (UT-04) are original cosponsors of the resolution.

Text of the resolution is available [HERE].

Women’s Advisory Council

“With a Congressional district that is over 50 percent female, it is imperative that the female perspective is heard and given a real influence on my decisions,” said Curtis. “To better represent Utah’s Third Congressional District, I am excited to announce the creation of a Women’s Advisory Council with whom I will meet throughout the year to discuss specific issues that impact Utah’s women. Women bring unique and valuable perspectives to policy decisions which play a crucial part in good governance.

Members of the council include:

Senator Luz Escamilla – Utah State Senator (Minority Whip); VP Community Development-Zion’s Bank
Ms. Patricia Jones – former Utah State Senator; founder of Women’s Leadership Institute
Ms. Nichelle Jensen – Creative Director and Event Planner at University Place
Ms. Geri Gamber – Executive Director of the Southeast Utah Association of Local Government
Ms. Sara Jones – Co-founder of the Women’s Tech Council; Founder of InclusionPro
Ms. Karen McCandless – Executive Director of Community Action Services Utah County

Rep. Curtis will first meet with the Women’s Advisory Council in February 2020. In addition to meeting with Rep. Curtis throughout the year, members of the council will have an open line of communication with Rep. Curtis and his office to share ideas and concerns about policies and proposals at any time.

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Curtis Advocates on House Floor for Bipartisan 5G Bill to Update Tech Security and Strengthen Partnerships

Curtis Advocates on House Floor for Bipartisan 5G Bill to Update Tech Security and Strengthen Partnerships

January 11, 2020

Washington, DC— Rep. John Curtis (R-UT), spoke on the House Floor to advocate for H.R. 2881, or the Secure 5G and Beyond Act. The bipartisan legislation would develop a strategy to ensure the security of next-generation mobile telecommunications systems and infrastructure in the United States, and assist allies and strategic partners to do likewise. The legislation passed through the House unanimously this evening.

The rapid development of 5G cellular technologies is another example of the resolve and innovative spirit unique to the United States economy. 5G will pave the way for first-of-their-kind products and services, and will more reliably give consumers quick and easy access to information necessary to live and work in the digital age. But the potential threats these advancements pose to our national security, to that of our allies, and to consumer privacy cannot be overstated, which is why I am urging my colleagues to support this legislation.”

Full text of the speech, as prepared for delivery, is below:

“Madam Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 2881, which is critical to protecting the security of our nation and for the advancement of 5G.

H.R.2881, or the Secure 5G and Beyond Act, tasks the federal government with developing strategies to protect against some of the vulnerabilities associated with cutting edge five-generation – or 5G – wireless communications systems.

The rapid development of 5G cellular technologies is another example of the resolve and innovative spirit unique to the United States economy.

5G will pave the way for first-of-their-kind products and services, and will more reliably give consumers quick and easy access to information necessary to live and work in the digital age.

But the potential threats these advancements pose to our national security, to that of our allies, and to consumer privacy cannot be overstated, which is why I am urging my colleagues to support this legislation.

I’m proud to vote for this important legislation.

Thank you, and I yield back.”

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Curtis Introduces Clean Energy Incentivizing “Invest Act”

Curtis Introduces Clean Energy Incentivizing “Invest Act”

December 30, 2019

Washington, DC— Representative John Curtis (R-UT), introduced H.R 5409, the Incentivizing New and Valuable Energy Storage Technology (INVEST) Act, which promotes storage technology in the energy industry. Passage of this bill will accelerate broad deployment new energy storage technologies across all segments of the energy ecosystem – utilities, customers, and independent power producers – in a manner that is equitable and lowers the cost of the technology for all.

“My time as mayor of Provo helped me understand how much a city and its inhabitants absolutely need reliable energy sources,” said Curtis. “I am proud to introduce the INVEST Act, a bill that will not only effectively encourage the production of clean energy and reduce carbon emissions, but invest in the American economy. Being good stewards of the environment through cleaner energy and putting money back into the pockets of Utahns need not be mutually exclusive.”

Statements of Support

Pat Reiten, Senior Vice President, Berkshire Hathaway Energy: “As utilities seek to meet customer interest in cost-effective renewable generation, energy storage is an essential component to reaching that goal. We applaud Rep. Curtis for introducing the ‘Incentivizing New and Valuable Energy Storage Technology (INVEST) Act.’ This important bill provides an energy storage investment tax credit broadly usable by utilities and energy project developers.  The ultimate aim is to scale up storage resource manufacturing and to bring the long-term cost of project deployment down for utility customers as we move to develop reliable, low cost, renewable energy.”

Gary Hoogeveen, CEO, Rocky Mountain Power: “The INVEST Act provides a time-limited opportunity to encourage energy storage projects that will benefit our customers and promote innovative energy breakthroughs. As the former leader of a municipal electric utility, Congressman Curtis likely understands better than anyone else in Congress just how critical reliable energy supply is to electricity customers. With increasing levels of low-cost renewable energy available in Utah and throughout the West, energy storage will be a critical part of our shared energy future.”

IBEW International President Lonnie R. Stephenson: “It’s vital that Congress provides a level playing field to public utilities when it comes to investing in new energy storage facilities. Allowing them to opt out of IRS tax-normalization rules involving ownership of new storage projects would help preserve good energy jobs and give renewable energy and storage technology a needed boost.”

Bob Frenzel, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Xcel Energy: “We applaud Rep. John Curtis for introducing this bill that, if passed, will both encourage the development of clean energy technologies and also ensure they are developed at the lowest possible cost to customers. It’s a win-win and we encourage members of Congress to support H.R. 5409.”

Dr. Zachary Kuznar, Managing Director of Micro Grid and Energy Storage Development, Duke Energy: “We applaud Congressman John Curtis, a thoughtful leader in Congress on energy, for introducing a storage investment tax credit that will spur further energy storage growth, and puts the customer first by allowing them to realize the benefit of the credit. The acceleration of clean, critical infrastructure at grid-scale is important in the production of carbon-free generation.”

Dave Robertson, Vice President for Public Policy, Portland General Electric: “Our customers want us to lead the fight against climate change, and they want us to keep their monthly energy bills affordable while we do it. We’re asking Congress to ensure tax policies don’t sideline utilities like ours at this critical time in the clean energy transition by unintentionally tilting the field in favor of developers who don’t share our accountability to meet climate goals or our commitment to keep customer prices low. We’re grateful to Representative Curtis for introducing a bill to ensure utilities can be leaders in advancing energy storage as an important tool in our clean energy future.”

Background

H.R. 5409 provides an energy storage investment tax credit (ITC) that allows regulated utilities the ability to utilize a tax credit up front without having to spread out savings over the life of a major capital project. This is a necessary component of the storage ITC so that regulated electric utilities can pass the benefits of the tax credit to its customers quickly. By making this change, Congress will remove a barrier to energy storage investment facing regulated electric utilities and accelerate the deployment of clean, critical infrastructure.

  • H.R 5409 establishes a new 30% investment tax credit (ITC) for owners of stand-alone energy storage property and – to ensure the greatest benefit to electricity consumers — contains critically important language to ensure that regulated utilities may use the ITC in the same manner as non-regulated entities.
  • H.R 5409 will allow regulated electric utilities the ability to make meaningful investments in energy storage fleets and allow regulated electric utilities to pass the benefits of the tax credit to its customers quickly.
  • H.R. 5409 will allow the broadest possible use of the ITC which will provide competition in the market place and drive down costs for consumers. 
  • By passing H.R. 5409, Congress will not only help reduce the per unit cost of energy storage for retail customers, but also stimulate investment in new energy storage technologies in the future.

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Curtis “Miracle Mountain” Bill Sails Through Committee

Curtis “Miracle Mountain” Bill Sails Through Committee

December 13, 2019

Washington, DC— Rep. John Curtis (R-UT), Deputy Republican Leader of the National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands Subcommittee, released the following after his bill, H.R. 722, designating a mountain in the State of Utah as “Miracle Mountain” passed the House Natural Resources Committee unanimously last week.

“Although last year’s fire season was one of our worst, it brought out the best of Utah and our communities. I am pleased to have Elk Ridge City Mayor, Ty Ellis, with us here this morning. Recognizing that he had witnessed a miracle, shortly after the fire was contained, Mayor Ellis reached out to me to see if we could have the peak named ‘Miracle Mountain.’ I am grateful to Mayor Ellis, as well as all of the courageous federal, state, and local firefighters that worked tirelessly to battle the blaze. Naming the peak ‘Miracle Mountain’ is a fitting gesture of gratitude.” 

Statement of Support

Elk Ridge City Mayor Ty Ellis joined the hearing as a witness. His prepared remarks are available: [HERE].

“As Mayor of Elk Ridge, I testify that the Bald Mountain fire had the potential to devastate our little city and to disrupt the lives of our residents far beyond the inconvenience of being evacuated. Many residents have adopted the name “Miracle Mountain” simply due to the unexplainable events that occurred during this time of uncertainty. I appreciate our Honorable Congressman John Curtis for his dedication to and sponsorship of this bill.”

Chief Victoria Christiansen of the United States Department of Agriculture—Forest Service also was a witness. Her full testimony is available: [HERE].

Background

In early September 2018, the Pole Creek and Bald Mountain Fires burned roughly 20,000 acres in Utah. Elk Ridge City and Woodland Hills, located in Utah County, were nearly victims of this fire. Miraculously, due to a change in wind direction, on September 13 the fire suddenly halted, stayed behind a mountain peak, and spared the community. Since the fire, the unnamed peak has been referred to as ‘Miracle Mountain’ by many constituents.

In November 2018, Mayor Ellis wrote an op-ed in the Daily Herald about the experience and detailed his request for Rep. Curtis to propose the legislation.

“We are extremely grateful that Congressman Curtis, who was with us during the dark hours of the fire and during the aftermath, was so willing to quickly take up this cause. We express our sincere gratitude to the rest of Utah’s House congressional delegation, Representatives Bishop, Stewart, and Love, for all joining Curtis in introducing the bill to name “Miracle Mountain.” We also appreciate Gov. Herbert’s support of the formal designation as well.

It is our hope that with this official naming of “Miracle Mountain,” it will become a permanent memorial, not only for the residents of Elk Ridge and Woodland Hills who were spared from disaster but also for all Utahns as a tribute to our wildland firefighters and as a powerful reminder that miracles do happen. It is our hope that Congress will pass Congressman Curtis’ bill and send it to the president for enactment.”

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