Throughout his career, AuCoin used his position in Congress to advocate for environmental protections. His seats on the House Appropriations Committee and on the Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies allowed him to pass significant environmental policy, especially in the Pacific Northwest. For his extensive work in environmental policy, AuCoin often earned endorsements and recognition from major environmental organizations like Sierra Club, American Rivers, and the Columbia River Gorge Commission.
As a Representative from Oregon, AuCoin also had to balance environmental concerns and the needs of the local timber industry, which employed a large number of people in his state. While this balance occasionally earned him criticisms from both sides, the work AuCoin accomplished in Congress has had lasting positive impacts in Oregon and the US.