Press Releases

Congressman Adam Smith reintroduced the Rural Economic Vitalization Act (REVA), a bill that would address the wasteful, environmentally damaging, and economically inefficient federal grazing policy on our public lands. This legislation would change federal law to allow ranchers with grazing permits to voluntarily relinquish their permits to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service in exchange for private market compensation.  It would further allow the BLM and U.S. Forest Service to permanently retire the grazing permit.  

“Our current federal grazing policy is inefficient, wasteful, and must be addressed,” said Congressman Adam Smith.  “By allowing ranchers with grazing permits to voluntarily relinquish their permits, this legislation is a win for all involved as it saves the American taxpayer money, gives public lands the chance to rebuild their natural habitats, and provides ranchers with more financial opportunities.  This bill opens the door for private solutions to a long-standing problem and eliminates wasteful spending while saving taxpayer dollars.”

Representative Raul Grijalva joined Congressman Smith in introducing the legislation, saying “grazing is an important use of our public lands, but it's a very impactful use. Excessive grazing impacts wildlife habitat, soil composition, local hydrology, and even heightens the impacts of climate change. Retiring some permits will help save taxpayer money and benefit federal conservation efforts. Right now, when we are looking for ways to save taxpayer money, REVA is a win-win. Ranchers that want to retire their permits should have that opportunity.”

Current law does not allow for the retirement of grazing permits.  This has impacts on wildlife, watersheds, and the surrounding ecosystem, which continue to be harmed by domestic livestock grazing.  In addition to the environmental issues, the federal grazing program is heavily subsidized and costs American taxpayers over $117 million a year.  In Fiscal Year 2014, the BLM and U.S. Forest Service spent $134 million on grazing management, but only reported collecting $17 million in grazing fees.   

Click here for a fact sheet on REVA.

Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement after the President and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the Clean Power Plan: 

“Pollution from power plants is the single largest source of carbon pollution in the United States and I applaud the EPA and the Administration for their efforts to address it.  The finalization of the Clean Power Plan is a significant step towards combating climate change and conserving our natural resources for future generations. 
“Climate change and air pollution disproportionately affect low income families, communities of color, and vulnerable populations like children and the elderly. We need to be doing more to protect our community. This final rule sends a strong message that the United States is committed to addressing this issue. As Congress holds hearings and debates on clean energy and climate legislation, I will focus on investing in clean energy and energy efficiency technologies, while reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and combating climate change to ensure the well-being of future generations.”

In the Social Security Commission’s annual report released last week, the Commission warned of major shortfalls in Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) that will result in a 19 percent reduction in benefits for 11 million disabled Americans starting in 2016 if Congress doesn’t act.  Today, Congressman Smith cosponsored the One Social Security Act to prevent these cuts and to help ensure individuals get the benefits they deserve. 

“It is critical that we preserve the guarantee associated with Social Security and continue the system in a sustainable way.  This legislation would prevent 11 million disabled Americans from facing harmful cuts to their Social Security benefits without adding a penny to the deficit and without changing the overall financial standing of the program.  By simply unifying the two existing Social Security funds, the One Social Security Act will prevent SSDI from running out, and ensure disabled workers get the benefits they have earned,” Adam explained.
A 1956 law required the government to distribute Social Security in two separate funds: one triggered by retirement or death (Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance–or OASDI) and the other by a severe injury or illness (SSDI).  This separation makes it harder for the much smaller amount of SSDI beneficiaries to access OASDI funds, despite disabled workers having fully contributed to Social Security as a whole.   As a result, Congress has periodically been forced to authorize the transfer of funds between OASDI and SSDI to ensure disabled beneficiaries get what they deserve.  This legislation would merge the two funds to streamline Social Security payments and ensure that SSDI beneficiaries do not see their benefits fall in 2016.

Congressman Adam Smith made the following statement after hearing about the death of Donnie Chin:

“I am deeply saddened to hear about the death of Donnie Chin. As the director of the International District Emergency Center, Donnie helped provide critical support and emergency services to the International District and he will be greatly missed.  My thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time.”

On June 25, 2015, Congressman Dave Reichert and Congressman Adam Smith reintroduced legislation that would establish the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area. This designation would help to preserve our region's scenic natural lands and wildlife habitat, while also recognizing its economic benefit through the promotion of outdoor recreation, tourism, and agriculture. 

Just days after the reintroduction of the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Act, the legislation received broad support from several organizations, community groups, and local elected officials.  The diverse coalition of organizations and community members supporting this effort speaks to the value our community places on protecting our environment for generations to come.  Below are statements of support for the Act, as well as an excerpt from Crosscut’s recent feature on the legislation and efforts to support it. 

Les Welsh, Regional Executive Director, Pacific Regional Center, National Wildlife Federation

“We applaud Congressman Smith’s efforts to designate the Mountains to Sound Greenway and add important public recognition to a space that is enormously valuable to both people and wildlife in the backyard of the Washington’s largest metropolitan area.”

Councilmember Larry Gossett, King County

“The creation of the Greenway has been a major effort that King County has taken the lead on over the past 20 years, investing well over $100 million in land acquisition and recreational development.”

Josh Brown, Executive Director, Puget Sound Regional Council

“The Mountains to Sound Greenway is an important component of VISION 2040, the region’s integrated strategy to ensure the well-being of people and communities, economic vitality, and a healthy environment as we grow.”

Gene Duvernoy, Executive Director, Forterra 

“Such a designation will further empower a consensus-based approach for the continued care and improvement of the Greenway—a model proven successful by the remarkable achievements of the Greenway coalition over the last 20 years. It is yet another means of achieving the goals of the Cascade Agenda and ensuring a livable place for us all.”

Terri Butler, Executive Director, Sustainable Seattle

“We at Sustainable Seattle have found that our members grew to appreciate the earth and the importance of keeping it healthy through their own personal positive experiences in the outdoors, either as children or later in life”

Patrick Bannon, President, Bellevue Downtown Association

“Bellevue residents and businesses benefit from having world-class recreation at our doorstep. The Greenway is an attraction for top employers and talent, helping to keep our local and regional economy strong.”

Bruce Bassett, Mayor, City of Mercer Island

“As a city within the Mountains to Sound Greenway, Mercer Island shares the vision of a connected landscape extending from the shores of Puget Sound, across the Cascade crest and into the central portion of Washington State, providing scenic beauty, outstanding recreation and a high quality of life for this region.”

Elizabeth Stewart, Executive Director, Renton Historical Society

“This area exemplifies the rich and storied history of our region, and we support recognizing the uniqueness of this region by designating the Greenway with a fitting national label.”

Janet Ray, Assistant Vice President, AAA Washington, Bellevue

National Heritage Area designation will create a framework that will provide a higher profile and enhanced reputation for this corridor and allow it to become even more a destination for heritage and recreational travelers, a goal of our company since its inception.”