Secretary Salazar Testifies at House Appropriations Committee
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Environment to discuss his $12.1 billion budget request for fiscal year 2010. The Secretary outlined five agenda items as his top priorities. They are; creating a new energy frontier and addressing climate change, protecting treasured landscapes, creating a 21st Century Youth Conservation Corps, solving water problems and empowering Indian Country. Below are excerpts from that testimony.
Topic: The budget requests $50.1 million to invest in renewable energy development on Interior public lands and waters. Secretary Salazar says many projects are ready to go.
“On our beginning work here we have identified over 200 applications for solar and wind projects both in the Southwest and high plains and off of the Atlantic. Many of those projects frankly have been waiting and are ready to go. So from Arizona to the offshores of New Jersey and Delaware to high plains of the Dakotas we can harness this energy. And we are in a position where we believe that with this investment that we will be able to have permits for more than a dozen for both solar and for wind completed by the end of 2010. So this is an agenda that’s not a ‘pie in the sky’ dream agenda but it’s something that we can in fact make happen.”
Topic: The 2010 budget shows the President’s commitment to protecting treasured landscapes with an unprecedented $2.3 billion for parks operations, a program increase of $100 million above 2009 enacted levels.
“One area specifically here is with respect to parks. We have a $2.3 billion request with respect to investments in parks which is a $100 million increase that will improve visitor facilities, perform daily maintenance and conduct interpretive ranger programs. The budget includes $25 million in parks for park partnerships. We’re modeling this subcommittee’s action in 2008 to leverage private donations so that we stretch our dollars further by bringing in the private-sector.”
Topic: The budget includes increased funding for efforts to help Indian Country prosper, including $30 million toward law enforcement.
“We have a situation in Indian country today where the rule of law is simply not upheld, where we have huge amounts of crime and violence which sometimes is eight to ten times higher than it is in non-Indian country. We need to address those issues effectively and so we have requested $30 million so we can put additional officers on the street, so we can increase our efforts at detention facilities and the justice systems in Indian country. As soon as I get my Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs confirmed we will create a task-force that will work with the department of justice and the states and the tribes to move forward to finally address the issue of lawlessness in Indian country.”