Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 4/10/2015

Rayburn House Office Building

Dear Friends,

As the biofuel industry continues to grow, it is important that thoughtful consideration is given to renewable energy policy. In order to keep Congress apprised of industry developments, I became an original co-chair of the Congressional Biofuels Caucus. This week I had the opportunity to attend the White Earth State of the Nation, and I also joined Congressman Nolan in Bemidji to express my support for Essential Air Service. Also included in this newsletter is information regarding grid-enabled water heaters and an update to the Renewable Fuel Standard program.



Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District

Essential Air Service

Small communities rely upon the Essential Air Service (EAS) program to provide access to the national air transportation system and sustain scheduled air service. I joined Congressman Nolan at the Bemidji Regional Airport to emphasize our support for maintaining EAS funding as it is considered in Congress.

White Earth State of the Nation

Erma Vizenor (Chairwoman, White Earth Tribal Council), Don Cook (Secretary, Red Lake Tribe)

On Thursday I attended the State of the Nation Address at the White Earth Reservation in Mahnomen to hear Chairwoman Vizenor talk about the tribe's accomplishments over the past year. Chairwoman Vizenor was elected to the position in 2004 and is the first woman to lead the largest tribe in Minnesota. As Chairwoman, she represents all districts both on and off the White Earth Reservation. The event was well attended by community members.

Battle Lake Blue Ribbon Ceremony

On Wednesday, I was honored to join students, teachers and administrators at the Battle Lake Public Schools in recognition of their Blue Ribbon status. The award is the result of the community’s work and commitment to strengthening their schools to give students the best education possible. Their accomplishment wasn’t done overnight, and shows how schools can achieve academic excellence. Strong schools are the cornerstone of a strong economic future of the 7th district, and I was glad to be with the community to celebrate this honor.

Indran Amirthanayagam and TeacHaiti

Indran Amirthanayagam, the Sri Lankan Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, visited Detroit Lakes as one of my guests to read some of his poetry about his family and life experiences. He speaks of his art as one of “gathering essences” meaning we all are connected. His first volume of poetry was Elephants of Reckoning for which he was awarded the 1994 Patterson Prize.

Kevin Shipley, Lynn Hummel, Bev Hummel, Sheila Welle, Indran Amirthanayagam, Denise Fredrickson

Indran also met with members of TeacHaiti, a Minnesota non-profit corporation dedicated to raising money for the tuition, uniforms, shoes, and supplies of impoverished Haitian children.

Baby Boomers for Balanced Healthcare

Bill Doherty (Professor, University of Minnesota Family Social Science), Bill Adams (Health Care Consultant and member of Baby Boomers for Balanced Health Care)

On Monday evening Baby Boomers for Balanced Health Care held a community conversation in Fergus Falls which staff member Toni Merdan attended. The group is advocating nationally for citizens to think critically about their health care use and ways to reduce health care costs. The group bases its discussion off the Choosing Wisely Initiative from the American Board of Internal Medicine which was launched in 2012. The initiative encourages patients to have interactive conversations with their physicians to give them more choice in their care.

Housing and Community Dialogue

Colleen Landkamer (State Director, USDA Rural Development)

Last week my Sr. Economic Development Officer, Toni Merdan, attended the Upper Minnesota Valley Housing and Community Dialogue meeting at the Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission offices in Appleton.  The meeting was hosted by the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund and USDA Rural Development to engage a broad network of individuals in the region to discuss specific affordable housing needs in their communities. 

Legislative Update

Congressional Biofuels Caucus

I became one of four original co-chairs of the new, bipartisan Congressional Biofuels Caucus in the 114th Congress. The other three co-chairs are Representatives Rodney Davis (R-IL), Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa) and Krisi Noem (R-S.D). The goal of the Caucus is to educate Members on developments in the biofuels industry and ensure policy continues to reflect the importance of biofuels in the United States.

Grid-Enabled Water Heaters

Large capacity grid-enabled water heaters allow energy producers to implement cost-saving demand response programs which ultimately lower energy bills for consumers. Unfortunately, the Department of Energy recently decided to reverse course on this issue and will move forward with implementing an energy efficiency standard that will prevent large volume water heaters from being manufactured. Minnesotans commonly use water heaters to heat our homes, which is why I signed onto a bill, H.R. 906, that will exempt large volume water heaters from the Department of Energy’s overbearing energy regulation.


Renewable Fuel Standard

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposed settlement with oil and refinery industry groups over deadlines for issuing annual requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard program (RFS). This process has gone on far too long, but with this announcement we are one step closer to having the certainty needed to move forward. I hope that in the coming months the EPA will do as Congress intended and announce strong Renewable Volume Obligations that will keep the biofuels industry, our farms and rural economies on the right track.


In commemoration of World Health Day, the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) introduced the online “FoodKeeper.” This food safety application, available for download on both Apple and Android devices, helps users implement efficient food storage practices designed to maximize quality and mitigate waste. 

Congressional Art Competition

Two weeks remain before the deadline to submit artwork into the Congressional Art Competition. The winning piece, selected in early May, will help decorate the Cannon Tunnel between the House Office Buildings and the U.S. Capitol for one year. Application, eligibility, and artwork specifications are available online. The deadline for all submissions is Friday, April 24, 2015.

Discovering the 7th

The Finn Creek Open Air Museum is a Finnish-American institution located south of New York Mills. The museum documents and displays the Finnish experience in the New York Mills area, and highlights Finnish music, food, and cultural demonstrations during an annual August festival. The museum also features a Finnish specialty textile and glass shop.

This Week in American History

USS Minnesota (1907) / Great White Fleet Voyage

The USS Minnesota (BB-22) was christened and launched in Newport News, Virginia on April 8, 1905. The Minnesota served as one of sixteen ships in President Theodore Roosevelt’s 1907 “Great White Fleet,” completing a circumnavigation of the world in two years. The battleship entered World War I in 1917 as a gunnery and engineering training ship on the mid-Atlantic seaboard, until severe damage from an underwater mine explosion necessitated five months of repairs. After returning to sea in 1919, the Minnesota would go on to complete three round-trips to France, bringing more than three thousand veterans home from the war. The ship was dismantled in 1924.

Visitors from the District

Chad Degerness (ROSEAU)

Leonard and Mary Kay Matthys (WILLMAR), Ronald and Mary Ellen Hodapp (IL)