House Appropriations Committee Approves 2008 Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Bill
On Thursday, June 7, the House Appropriations Committee reported out the Interior bill after adopting eight amendments, five of which relate to Interior.
There were no changes to the funding in the bill made in Committee markup. For the Department of the Interior the bill provides $10.167 billion. Compared to the 2008 President's budget request of $9.713 billion, this is an increase of $454 million or 4.5 percent. Compared to the 2007 enacted level of $9.905 billion, this is an increase of $262 million.
- The bill provides significant increases above the 2007 enacted level for the 2008 President' budget initiatives including the National Parks Centennial, the Healthy Lands Initiative, and the BIA Initiatives to combat methamphetamine in Indian Country and to improve education in BIA schools.
- It supports the 2008 President's budget request for fully funding fixed costs including pay and benefits for the Department's 70,000 FTE.
- For the National Park Service, the mark provides $2.5 billion for the National Park Service. This includes an increase of $199 million for operations of the National Park System. This is a reduction of $10.3 million below the President's Budget request. The park operations and U.S. Park Police accounts are combined in the mark. The House provides an increase over the President's budget of $50 million to be matched with private funds for Centennial Challenge signature projects. This is one-half the level requested in the President's budget mandatory funding proposal.
- The mark includes $1.4 billion for the Fish and Wildlife Service. This includes an increase of $56 million above the 2008 President's budget and 2007 enacted level for the National Wildlife Refuge System.
- The mark provides $806.6 million for the Wildland Fire account, providing $7 million over the President's budget for preparedness. Suppression is fully funded at the request of $294 million.
- The Bureau of Land Management is funded in the House mark at $1.0 billion. The Chairman's mark increases funding for the National Landscape Conservation System in BLM, an increase of $10 million above the budget request.
- The mark includes $1.0 billion for the U.S. Geological Survey. This includes increases of $10 million for research on global climate change and $22 million for the minerals assessment program. The mark fully funds the $24.1 million budget for Landsat continuity mission.
- The mark provides $2.3 billion for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. This includes increases for law enforcement activities targeting at combating methamphetamine, education programs including the Johnson O'Malley Assistance program, and the Housing Improvement program.
- The Payment in Lieu of Taxes program is funded at $233 million in the Chairman's mark, This is an increase of $43 million above the President's budget request.
The amendments that were adopted by the Committee include the following (they are attached)
- UPAR: Congressman Jackson offered an amendment to add report language to remind Interior and the National Park Service of on-going statutory duties related to the Urban Park and Recreation Recovery program. Chairman Dicks accepted the language and indicated that funds may be provided for this program in the future. The amendment was adopted on voice vote.
- USGS NGTOC: Congressman Emerson offered an amendment to include report language urging the Department to implement a new approach to the restructuring of the National Geospatial Technical Operations Center, as the ongoing delays are harming USGS's science functions. The amendment was adopted on voice vote.
- Kenilworth Park: Congressman Simpson offered an amendment to add report language that promotes a partnership that Kenilworth Park has with the District of Columbia. The amendment was adopted on voice vote.
- 98/99 Leases: Congressman Hinchey offered an amendment to the bill limiting funds to issue new leases to holders of existing leases that do not have royalty relief thresholds. The amendment was adopted on voice vote.
- Bristol Bay: Congressman Hinchey offered an amendment to add report language on Bristol Bay - requiring extensive reseach and data collection related to lease sales in the North Aleutian Basin. The language requires that GAO conduct an economic analysis on the total anticipated costs of forgiveness and the cost of repurchase of tracts. The amendment was adopted on a roll call vote of 33 to 30.
An amendment offered by Congressman Peterson to allow gas only leasing in the OCS in areas more than 25 miles from the coast was defeated by a vote of 39 to 25. Congressman Peterson offered, discussed and withdrew his amendment to allow OCS leasing in areas more than 100 miles from the coast.
Other Amendments offered to the 2008 Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill (PDF Format)
Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, 2008 House of Representatives Report 110-187 (PDF Format) - Full version Report 110-187.pdf PDF Format)