WASHINGTON, D.C. At the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee hearing this morning, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) questioned the administration’s nominee to be the Chair of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, Aimee Jorjani, on her views about the need to expand high-speed internet coverage to rural areas in Ohio and around the country.

An excerpt of Portman’s questioning can be found below and a video can be found here.

Portman: “One of the concerns that we have in rural Ohio, particularly, and I’m sure my colleagues from West Virginia as well as Alaska and Washington have the same issue, is how are we going to build out broadband services. Rural broadband is a big priority of mine and our state, especially the rural parts of our state. We’ve got about 4,200 twilight towers across the country and this FCC program comment, which was approved by unanimous bipartisan vote, I think presents an opportunity to both have historic preservation and expand these internet coverage opportunities, including rural broadband, by making it easier to co-locate wireless services on existing infrastructure. Since you’ll be required to vote on this comment before it goes into effect, I wanted to ask what your views are on it. Do you agree that a solution is needed to clarify the status of twilight towers and make it easier to leverage these existing structures for broadband development?”

Ms. Aimee Kathryn Jorjani, Nominee for Chairman of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation: “I do agree, this needs to be worked with. Section 106 process is there to accommodate for these needs. Whether it is wireless or infrastructure energy developments, the ACHP board membership will work with…it’s an issue I have not worked on personally, I have heard a lot on it and I certainly look forward to finding a solution for this set of towers that were built during this period that slid by without the Section 106 review process. The infrastructure is there, it would be a shame not to utilize it, so I look forward to working and examining this issue.”

Portman: We look forward to working on it with you so please stay in touch with us on it. There are about a million Ohioans who do not have internet access in their homes, and we’re pushing on that and this is one way to ensure that the colocation done properly can provide that access so we look forward to working with you.”

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