Subscribe

Email Updates
Sign up to stay informed about the latest happenings at Interior.

Subscribe

Sign up to stay informed about the latest happenings at Interior.

Subscribe

Email Updates
Sign up to stay informed about the latest happenings at Interior.

Subscribe

Sign up to stay informed about the latest happenings at Interior.
Email Updates
Sign up to stay informed about the latest happenings at Interior.
twitter facebook youtube tumblr instagram Google+ flickr
Resources for:


Share

Video



Earth Day Webchat With Deputy Secretary Michael Connor


April 22, 2014


Deputy Secretary of the Interior Michael Connor holds a special Earth Day webchat from Interior's Bison Bistro.


Video will appear here.

Download Video [Right-Click and Select "Save As"]


Transcript

>> GOOD AFTERNOON AND WELCOME TO THE BISON BISTRO. MY NAME IS TIM FULLERTON AND I AM THE DIRECTOR OF DIGITAL STRATEGY HERE AND I WANT TO THANK YOU FOR JOINING US TODAY FOR A VERY SPECIAL EARTH DAY LIVE CHAT WITH OUR NEW DEPUTY SECRETARY MIKE CONNOR WHO WILL BE ANSWERING YOUR QUESTIONS OVER THE NEXT 20 -- 25 TO 30 MINUTES ABOUT EARTH DAY RELATED TOPICS OR ANYTHING THAT YOU HAVE IN MIND. SO IF YOU WANT TO ASK A QUESTION, GO AHEAD AND ASK IT AT THE CHAT BOX BELOW AND WE'LL DO OUR BEST TO ANSWER AS MANY OF THEM AS POSSIBLE. SO BEFORE WE GET TO THOSE QUESTIONS, I'M JUST GOING TO TURN IT OVER TO THE DEPUTY SECRETARY FOR A FEW OPENING REMARKS. MIKE? 

 

>> THANK YOU, TIM. HAPPY EARTH DAY TO YOU AND TO EVERYBODY OUT THERE. I THINK YOU INDICATED THAT I MIGHT ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS THAT THEY MIGHT HAVE, SO I APPRECIATE THE BROAD SCOPE HERE. I JUST WANTED TO SAY FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO DON'T KNOW ME, I AM RELATIVELY NEW IN THIS POSITION. MIKE CONNOR, DEPUTY SECRETARY. I WAS CONFIRMED AT THE END OF FEBRUARY, STARTED IN THIS POSITION FIRST PART OF MARCH. AND SO I'M ABOUT ON WEEK SIX NOW. PRIOR TO THAT TIME, I WAS THE COMMISSIONER OF THE BUREAU OF RECLAMATION, AND SO -- AND WAS IN THAT CAPACITY SINCE MAY OF 2009. SO I'VE BEEN HERE WITH THE DEPARTMENT FOR QUITE A WHILE NOW RUNNING THAT PARTICULAR AGENCY. AND SO FROM THAT STANDPOINT, RECLAMATION'S MISSION IS GREATLY INVOLVED IN WATER DEVELOPMENT, POWER GENERATION AGENCY. A SET OF RESPONSIBILITIES, I THINK, EQUAL TO OTHER AGENCIES HERE WITHIN THE DEPARTMENT, PROTECTING LANDSCAPE, PROTECTING WATERSHEDS, AND DOING ALL WE CAN TO ENSURE THAT WHILE WE USE THE RESOURCES THAT WE PROTECT THE NATURAL WONDERS OF THIS EARTH. AND SO FROM THAT STANDPOINT, EARTH DAY HAS HAD SIGNIFICANT MEANING TO ME OVER THE LAST FIVE YEARS IN THIS CAPACITY. 

 

>> IT'S A GREAT TIME TO SET ASIDE, TO RECOGNIZE THE SPECIAL PLACES THAT WE HAVE, THE THINGS THAT WE DID PARTICULARLY IN THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR, TO CHECK RESOURCES, TO UNDERSTAND HOW THEY'RE CHANGING IN THIS DAY AND AGE, AND TO CONTINUALLY DO ALL THAT WE CAN TO ENSURE THAT WE EDUCATE THE PUBLIC AND OURSELVES ABOUT THE RESOURCE AND THAT WE ALSO CELEBRATE IT, TOO. SO IT'S GREAT TO BE HERE WITH YOU TODAY. GREAT TO BE HERE WITH ALL OF YOU. THANKS FOR TUNING IN. 

 

>> GREAT. IT'S APPROPRIATE THAT WE'RE IN THE BISON BISTRO AS THIS WAS ONE OF THE FIRST FEDERAL BUILDINGS THAT WAS LEAD PLATINUM CERTIFIED. THIS IS A GREAT DAY TO HAVE THE EARTH DAY CHAT. WITH THAT, WE'RE GOING TO GO AHEAD AND ASK THE FIRST QUESTION WHICH COMES FROM HARRY IN ARIZONA WHO SAID, EARTH DAY IS A GREAT TIME TO CELEBRATE THE NEXT GENERATION OF STEWARDS OF OUR PUBLIC LANDS. HOW WILL THE DEPARTMENT IMPLEMENT THE RECENT SECRETARIAL ORDER ON YOUTH, PARTICULARLY ABOUT PREPARING YOUNG PEOPLE FOR NATURAL RESOURCE JOBS? 

 

>> IT'S A GREAT QUESTION, PARTICULARLY ON EARTH DAY. I THINK A LARGE PART OF EARTH DAY IS COMMITTED TO FOCUSING ATTENTION ON OUR YOUTH ABOUT THE NEED TO PROTECT THIS WONDERFUL RESOURCE THAT WE HAVE. THE SECRETARY OF -- SECRETARY'S ORDER ON YOUTH IS REALLY -- WAS INTENDED TO DO A COUPLE OF THINGS. ONE, TO JUST HIGHLIGHT THE STRONG PRIORITY THAT SHE GIVES TO THE YOUTH INITIATIVE HERE AS THE FOUNDATIONAL PRIORITIES HERE AT THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR, TO HIGHLIGHT THE INITIATIVES THAT WE HAVE IN THE CATEGORIES OF PLAY, LEARN, SERVE AND WORK. AND WE'VE GOT PROGRAMS WITHIN EACH OF THOSE CATEGORIES THAT WE EXPECT THE INDIVIDUAL BUREAUS TO BE CARRYING OUT TO PROVIDE OPPORTUNITIES TO ENGAGE WITH YUDES, TO GET THEM OUTSIDE, TO BRING THEM ON TO OUR PUBLIC LANDS, TO PARTICIPATE IN EDUCATION PROGRAMS, TO PROVIDING VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUTH AND ULTIMATELY WITH THE IDEA THAT WE ARE CREATING ADVOCATES FOR NATIONAL RESOURCES, FOR OUR PUBLIC LANDS, FOR THE AREAS THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR IS RESPONSIBLE FOR, AND THAT ULTIMATELY WE'RE NOT ABOVE HOPING THAT THOSE SAME YOUTH COME AND WORK FOR US AT SOME POINT IN TIME AND BECOME RESPONSIBLE STEWARDS OF OUR WONDERFUL PUBLIC RESOURCES. SO THE BUREAUS THEMSELVES WILL BE IDENTIFYING SOME OF THE SPECIFIC ASPECTS AS A RESULT OF THE SECRETARIAL ORDER THAT THEY WILL BE CARRYING OUT IN SERVICE OF THE YOUTH INITIATIVE IN THOSE CATEGORIES OF PLAY, LEARN, SERVE AND WORK. AND THE SECRETARY ERS IS DOING MORE THAN HER FAIR SHARE OF BEING OUT THERE AND WORKING WITH PRIVATE SECTOR TO RAISE FUNDS, $20 MILLION OVER THE NEXT SEVERAL YEARS, TO -- THAT CAN BE USED TO ENGAGE YOUTH AND PROVIDE SOME RESOURCES THAT THE BUREAUS CAN USE TO ALSO FACILITATE THE YOUTH INVOLVEMENT WITH OUR PROGRAMS, ETC. SO IT'S A BIG AGENDA. IT'S A HIGH PRIORITY. IT'S VERY APPROPRIATE HERE TO BE HIGHLIGHTING THAT ON EARTH DAY. 

 

>> GREAT. IF YOU'RE INTERESTED IN LEARNING MORE ABOUT THE SECRETARY'S YOUTH INITIATIVE AND TO ALSO FIND OUT WAYS THAT YOU CAN GET INVOLVED IN HELPING TO PROMOTE THAT INITIATIVE, YOU CAN GO TO DOI.GOV/YOUTH. THERE'S AN EDUCATIONAL VIDEO AND THINGS LIKE THAT THAT YOU CAN LEARN MORE ABOUT THE PROGRAM. ALL RIGHT, WE'RE GOING TO MOVE ON TO A QUESTION RELATED FROM ALTERNATIVE ENERGY. FROM WALLY IN KANSAS. CAN YOU TELL ME WHAT THE DEPARTMENT IS DOING TO PROMOTE ALTERNATIVE ENERGY THROUGHOUT THE UNITED STATES? 

 

>> WELL, THE DEPARTMENT OVER THE LAST FIVE YEARS HAS BEEN ACTIVELY ENGAGED IN PROMOTING ALTERNATIVE ENERGY. AND WE CERTAINLY NOW ARE EVEN MORE FOCUSED ON THAT GIVEN THE PRESIDENT'S CLIMATE ACTION PLAN. BUT SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE ADMINISTRATION, STRIVING TO FACILITATE, PERMIT AS MANY RENEWABLE ENERGY PROJECT HAS POSSIBLE ON PUBLIC LANDS HAS BEEN ONE OF THE FUNDAMENTAL PRIORITIES AND GOALS OF THIS DEPARTMENT. AND SO I THINK WE'VE MADE GREAT PROGRESS IN THAT AREA. RIGHT NOW I THINK WE'VE, BETWEEN THE BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT, THE BUREAU OF OCEAN ENERGY MANAGEMENT, BOTH ONSHORE AND OFFSHORE, WE'VE PERMITTED 51 PROJECTS. THE PRESIDENT'S CLIMATE ACTION PLAN CHARGES THE INTERIOR DEPARTMENT WITH A GOAL OF 20,000 MEGAWATTS OF RENEWABLE ENERGY PERMITTED ON PUBLIC LANDS AND WATERS BY 2020. IN THOSE 51 PROJECTS THAT I MENTIONED THAT HAVE BEEN PERMITTED SO FAR, I THINK THAT'S ABOUT 14,000 MEGAWATTS. SO WE'RE WELL ON OUR WAY TO MEETING THAT GOAL. WE'VE GOT -- AND THAT ENCOMPASSES WIND, SOLAR AND GEOTHERMAL. THOSE ARE THE THREE PRIMARY AREAS. JUST TO GIVE YOU A LITTLE BUILT OF CONTEXT FOR THAT 14,000 MEGAWATTS, THE BUREAU OF RECLAMATION, THE AGENCY THAT I RAN FOR FIVE YEARS, AS MOST EVERYBODY KNOWS, HAS A VERY LARGE PORTFOLIO OF HYDROPOWER PROJECT. 58 POWER PLANTS WITHIN RECLAMATION'S PORTFOLIO, AND WE ARE THE SECOND CHARGEST PRODUCER OF HYDROPOWER IN THE COUNTRY. THAT TOTAL PORTFOLIO, THOSE 58 POWER PLANTS THAT RECOLLECT LA HATION HAS, ARE 16,000 MEGAWATTS. SO THAT'S -- RECLAMATION WAS AN ORGANIZATION CREATED BACK IN 1902. SO IN THE SPAN OF FIVE YEARS NOW, INTERIOR AGENCIES HAVE PERMITTED ABOUT 14,000 MEGAWATTS, ALMOST THE EQUIVALENT OF THE BUREAU OF RECLAMATION'S ENTIRE GENERATING CAPACITY. SO NOT ALL THOSE PROJECTS HAVE BEEN BUILT YET. BUT MANY HAVE BEEN CONSTRUCTED AND ARE IN OPERATION RIGHT NOW, AND MANY ARE UNDER CONSTRUCTION AND THERE ARE MANY MORE PROJECTS IN THE QUEUE WITH APPLICATIONS FOR PERMITS. SO WE FEEL GOOD ABOUT THE RENEWAL ENERGY PORTFOLIO. 

 

>> GREAT, THANKS. ALL RIGHT, WE'RE GOING TO MOVE TO A QUESTION, WATER HE RELATED QUESTION FROM MARIA IN NEW MEXICO. WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON WE CAN LEARN FROM LAST FRIDAY'S AGREEMENT SIGNING CEREMONY? AND I THINK ON TOP OF THAT, MAYBE GIVE THE AUDIENCE A LITTLE BIT OF A COLOR ON WHAT EXACTLY THAT AGREEMENT DOES. 

 

>> SO, AS MOST OF YOU, IF YOU HAVEN'T BEEN ABLE TO TELL, PROBABLY EVERYTHING HERE WILL ULTIMATELY RELATE BACK TO WATER. HERE'S ONE THAT'S A SOFTBALL BECAUSE IT WAS A WATER-RELATED QUESTION. A LITTLE BACKGROUND IS OVERALL IN THE CLIMATE BASIN, THERE'S BEEN A LONG-STANDING RECOGNITION THAT IT'S AN OVERCOMMITTED RESOURCE, THE WATER SUPPLY THERE. AMONGST THE DIFFERENT NEEDS THAT EXIST, BOTH THE ENVIRONMENT, THE SALMON FISHERIES THAT ARE DEPENDENT UPON RIVER FLOWS, THE UPPER CLIMATE LAKE WHICH HAS ENDANGERED SUCKER FISH THAT WE NEED TO BE COGNIZANT OF AND TO PROTECT, WHICH IS A TRIBAL RESOURCE FOR THE TRIBES, AGRICULTURAL WATER USERS, AND NATURAL WILDLIFE REFUGES. SO THERE'S BEEN A LOT OF CONFLICT IN THIS BASIN OVER TIME RELATED TO THAT OVERAL OWE GATION OF WATER RESOURCE. NOT YUFF TO GO AROUND N 2001, THERE WAS A SERIOUS CONFLICT RELATED TO THE ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT AND WATER SUPPLY WITHIN THE PROJECT. AT ONE POINT IN TIME, I THINK THE COMMUNITIES IN THE BASIN WERE PROBABLY THE POSTER CHILD FOR CONFLICT BETWEEN THE ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT AND OTHER RESOURCE USE -- USERS. SINCE THAT TIME, IT'S JUST BEEN A DRAMATIC CHANGE IN THAT BASIN WITH THE DIFFERENT CONSTITUENCIES, AGRICULTURAL WATER USERS, ENVIRONMENTAL COMMUNITY, INDIAN TRIBES, AND RANCHERS, AND OTHERS COMING TOGETHER TO RECOGNIZE THAT IT'S BEST TO FOCUS ON WHAT THEY CAN AGREE ON THAN WHAT DIVIDES THEM. AND THERE'S JUST BEEN AN AMAZING TRANSFORMATION OVER THAT TIME OF ASSOCIATING A SET OF AGREEMENTS TO RESOLVE THOSE ISSUES, TO LOOK AT THE RESOURCE TO PROVIDE AS MUCH LIABILITY FOR WATER SUPPLY AS POSSIBLE, TO SHORE UP THE WATER AVAILABLE FOR ENVIRONMENTAL NEEDS TO MEET THE TRIBAL TRUST OBLIGATIONS THAT EXIST, SO LAST WEEK THE SECRETARY PARTICIPATED WITH A WHOLE GROUP OF OTHERS ON A THIRD AGREEMENT THAT'S BEEN PUT TOGETHER BETWEEN WATER USERS AND THE UPPER CLIMATE BASIN AND THE TRIBES IN PARTICULAR. THERE'S OTHER INTERESTED PARTIES, AND THAT'S REALLY A KEY THERE. SO THERE'S THREE AGREEMENTS IN PLACE. ONE IS A HYDROPOWER SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT, WHICH CONTEMPLATES A PROCESS TO LOOK AT POTENTIAL DAMN REMOVAL IN THE BASIN. AND THERE'S BEEN A LOT OF STUDIES AND ENVIRONMENTAL ANALYSIS ASSOCIATED WITH THAT AGREEMENT. THERE'S THE BASIN RESTORATION AGREEMENT, A SEPARATE AGREEMENT AMONGST A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT CONSTITUENCIES TO WORK ON RESTORATION OF CRITICAL HABITAT AND CRITICAL NEEDS IN THAT BASIN AND TO LOOK AT POWER USE IN THE BASIN, TRY AND FACILITATE RENEWABLE ENERGY DEVELOPMENT. AND THEN THIS LAST AGREEMENT THAT WAS SIGNED LAST WEEK, WHICH THE SECRETARY PARTICIPATED IN THAT CELEBRATION, IT WAS IN THE UPPER BASIN WITH A GROUP OF RANCHERS AND WATER USERS AND THE TRIBES THAT ONCE AGAIN WORKS UP THERE, ISSUES VIS-A-VIS EACH OTHER ON THE ALOWE GATION OF WATER THAT PROTECTS THE SENIOR TRIBAL WATER RIGHT FOR THE TRIBES BUT ALSO MOVES TOWARDS ENSURING WATER AVAILABILITY FOR THE OTHER WATER USE NERS THAT BASIN. SO I THINK IT'S A KEY THIRD LEG OF THE STOOL THAT'S NECESSARY TO BRING ALL THE DIFFERENT CONSTITUENCIES TOGETHER THAT MAYBE THEY CAN MOVE NOW TO THOSE THREE AGREEMENTS FORWARD. THEY DO REQUIRE LEGISLATION TO IMPLEMENT AND SO THAT WE CAN MOVE FORWARD WITH SOME CERTAINTY THAT'S NEEDED, BUT I THINK YOU'VE GOT THE KEY DIFFERENT PARTIES TOGETHER RIGHT NOW. IT'S JUST ONCE AGAIN, I CAN'T EXPRESS WHAT AN AMAZING STORY THE BASIN IS. I WAS INVOLVED IN A SERIES OF ISSUES BACK IN 2001 WHEN I WAS PREVIOUSLY AT THE INTERIOR DEPARTMENT. AND TO COME BACK AND TO HAVE A LITTLE BIT OF A ROLE IN HELPING MOVE THESE AGREEMENTS FORWARD, SEEING HOW THE PARTIES HAVE COME TOGETHER, AND TO -- TO SUPPORT EACH OTHER IN WHAT THEY'RE TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH THERE, AND THAT'S TRULY THE THING, THEY ARE NEGOTIATING OUT OF THE NEEDS OF THEIR OWN SPECIFIC COMMUNITIES, BUT THEY ARE DOING IT WITH AN EYE TOWARDS WHAT THEIR NEIGHBORS NEED. IT'S AN AMAZING THING TO WATCH. I'M VERY COMMITTED TO THOSE FOLKS TO TRY AND HELP THEM BRING THESE SET OF ISSUES TO COMPLETION. I KNOW THE SECRETARY IS, TOO. AND SO IT'S A GREAT SUCCESS STORY, BUT WE'RE NOT ALL THE WAY THERE YET. 

 

>> GREAT. THANKS, MIKE. AND IF YOU'RE JUST JOINING US, YOU ARE WATCHING A SPECIAL LIVE CHAT WITH OUR NEW DEPUTY SECRETARY MIKE CONNOR. WHO HAS BEEN ANSWERING YOUR QUESTIONS OVER THE LAST 15 MINUTES. WE'RE GOING TO PROBABLY GO FOR ANOTHER 15, SO YOU'VE GOT ANOTHER QUESTION, PUT IT IN THE CHAT QUEUE. AND WE'LL DO OUR BEST TO ANSWER THEM. WITH THAT WE'RE GOING TO MOVE ON TO A QUESTION FROM ONE COAST GOING TO THE OTHER COAST. THIS IS JANET IN FLORIDA WHO WANTS TO KNOW WILL OTHER COASTAL AREAS OUTSIDE OF THE REGION IMPACTED BY HURRICANE SANDY HAVE ACCESS TO FEDERAL FUNDING FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF COASTAL RECIVIL YENS SI PROGRAMS UNDER THE PRESIDENT'S CLIMATE ACTION PLAN? 

 

>> WELL, AS YOU NOTE THERE, THE CLIMATE ACTION PLAN AND BUILDING RESILIENCE IS GOING TO BE A HIGH PRIORITY UNDER THAT PLAN AND COASTAL RESILIENCE IS ONE OF THE HIGHEST PRIORITIES THAT WE NEED TO BE LOOKING AT. WITH RESPECT TO THE HURRICANE SANDY MONEY THAT'S AVAILABLE IN THE AFTERMATH, TO REBUILD, AND TO RESTORE THE COASTLINE AND TO BUILD RESILIENCY ALONG THE ATLANTIC SEABOARD, IT'S A -- IT DOES HAVE GEOGRAPHIC LIMITATIONS WHERE THAT MONEY IS AVAILABLE TO BE EXPENDED. IT'S A LARGE SET OF AREAS. I THINK IT ENCOMPASSES THE COASTAL AREA FROM VIRGINIA ALL THE WAY UP TO MAINE. BUT THAT IS SPECIFICALLY OUTLINED IN THE LEGISLATION PROVIDING THOSE RESOURCES THAT WE EXPEND IT IN THOSE PARTICULAR AREAS FOR THE REBUILDING AND THE RESTORATION ACTIVITY. AND WE'LL BE ANNOUNCING THE AWARD OF SOME GRANTS TO GRANTEES I THINK IN THE NEXT MONTH, BY THE END OF MAY FOR A LOT OF THE RESILIENCY PROJECTS THAT ARE UNDERWAY OR THAT HOPE TO BE FUNDED WITH THAT AVAILABLE SET OF RESOURCES. HAVING SAID THAT, THERE IS ALSO FUNDS AVAILABLE FOR GULF COAST RESTORATION IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE DEEP WATER HORIZON TRAGEDY AND THE NEED TO RESTORE THAT ENVIRONMENT AND TO ALSO LOOK AT THE PROSPECTS OF BUILDING RESILIENCY. THERE ARE SEVERAL SETS OF AVAILABLE RESOURCES THAT WILL GO TOWARDS GULF COAST RESTORATION AND OVERALL, THERE ARE JUST A NUMBER OF PROGRAMS AVAILABLE THAT THE INTERIOR WILL BE WORKING WITH OTHER AGENCIES, NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE, HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT THAT IS WORKING ON RESILIENCY PROGRAMS. IT WILL BE A HIGH PRIORITY TO LOOK AT COASTAL AREAS, AND THERE WILL BE DIFFERENT FUNDING SOURCES AVAILABLE FOR THAT. SO I THINK YOU CAN LOOK FORWARD TO THERE BEING OPPORTUNITIES, BUT THE HURRICANE SANDY FUNDING WILL NOT BE PART OF THAT. THAT WILL BE FOCUSED ON THAT VIRGINIA TO MAINE ATLANTIC SEABOARD AREA. 

 

>> GREAT, THANKS. ALL RIGHT, AND WE'RE GOING TO MOVE TO A QUESTION RELATED TO THE OREGON MOUNTAINS OF NEW MEXICO. THIS QUESTION IS FROM LUCAS. THE QUESTION IS STRAIGHTFORWARD AND IT'S ONE THAT I'M ASKED BY MEMBERS OF MY COMMUNITY ON A DAILY BASIS AND SOMETIMES MULTIPLE TIMES A DAY. WHEN WILL THESE AMAZING LANDS BE DESIGNATED AS A NATIONAL MONUMENT? 

 

>> WELL, FIRST, LET ME JUST HIGHLIGHT FOR EVERYBODY, THAT'S MY HOMETOWN, IN THE OREGON PEAKS AREA. IT IS A STUNNEDING LANDSCAPE. AND ONE THAT I'M SAD TO SAY I'M STILL LEARNING THE FULL BREADTH AND SCOPE OF THE WONDERFUL RESOURCES OUT THERE. I WAS BACK HOME ABOUT A MONTH AGO AND WENT FOR A SHORT VISIT WITH THE B.L.M. FIELD MANAGER IN THE AREA. AND WENT UPON SOME LANDS THAT I HAD NEVER BEEN ON. SAD TO SAY, AFTER I GREW UP THERE AND LIVED THERE FOR 24 YEARS, THAT I'M STILL DISCOVERING NEW AREAS. SO IT IS A WONDERFUL RESOURCE. IT IS WORTHY OF PROTECTION. THERE'S NO TIMEFRAME RIGHT NOW FOR ANY MONUMENT DESIGNATION. THERE'S OBVIOUSLY LEGISLATION THAT'S BEEN INTRODUCED IN THE CONGRESS TO PROTECT THIS LANDSCAPE. WE ARE WORKING WITH MEMBERS OF THE NEW MEXICO DELEGATION ON THAT LEGISLATION. THE SECRETARY HAS BEEN OUT TO THE AREA, VISITED, MET WITH MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC, HIKED, AS SHE LIKES TO DO, ON THE LANDSCAPE TO BETTER UNDERSTAND IT AND GET INTO THAT SETTING TO REALLY EXPOSE HERSELF TO THE RE SOURCE ITSELF. AND SO WE'RE GOING TO CONTINUE WORKING WITH THOSE MEMBERS OF THE NEW MEXICO DELEGATION, AND WE'RE GOING TO BE CONTINUING TO LOOK FOR OPPORTUNITIES TO PROTECTING THOSE LANDS. THEY ARE A TREASURED RESOURCE. 

 

>> GREAT, THANKS, MIKE. NOW WE'RE GOING TO GO TO A QUESTION THAT HAS BOTH BEEN ASKED ON THE CHAT AND WAS EMAILED INTO US PRIOR. THIS IS A QUESTION FROM MOLLY IN COLORADO. WITH THE INCREASINGLY DRAMATIC DROUGHTS IN THE COLORADO RIVER BASIN WHAT MORE CAN D.O.I. DO TO MAKE SURE THAT THIS $26 BILLION RESOURCE REMAINS A VIABLE AND HEALTHY WATERSHED INTO THE FUTURE OF OUR BUSINESS ECONOMY? A LITTLE EXPLANATION OF WHAT 319 IS. 

 

>> SURE. FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO DON'T KNOW, THE COLORADO RIVER BASIN HAS BEEN IN THE MIDST OF A 14-YEAR DROUGHT. THIS YEAR, WE'RE FORTUNATE TO SAY I THINK IT'S AN AVERAGE YEAR. AT LEAST THE LAST PROJECTIONS THAT I SAW. BUT THIS 14-YEAR CYCLE THAT WE'VE BEEN IN IN THE COLORADO RIVER BASIN IS THE LOWEST LEVELS OF PRECIPITATION RUNOFF ON RECORD. THE RECORDS LAST ABOUT 100 YEARS. BUT ACCORDING TO TREE RING STUDIES, IT MAY BE IN THE LOWEST ONE PERCENTILE OF A 14-YEAR PERIOD. SO THIS IS A SERIOUS DROUGHT THIS YEAR. MAY JUST BE A TREND BACK UPWARDS OR IT MAY JUST BE AN ABERRATION IN AN ONGOING DROUGHT. WE DON'T KNOW THE ANSWER TO THAT QUESTION RIGHT NOW. BUT THERE'S BEEN A NUMBER OF ACTIONS THAT THE BUREAU OF RECLAMATION, OTHER INTERIOR AGENCIES AND THE SEVEN BASIN STATES THAT ENCOMPASS THE COLORADO RIVER BASIN HAVE BEEN TAKING OVER THE LAST DECADE TO TRY AND PREPARE AND BEST DEAL WITH THIS DROUGHT. ADAPT TO THIS DROUGHT. AND SO THERE'S BEEN A SERIES OF AGREEMENTS THAT HAVE TRIED TO INVENT VISE CONVERSATION, THAT HAVE TRIED TO ADDRESS WATER SHORTAGES, SHOULD IT GET TO THAT POINT IN THE BASIN SO PEOPLE CAN ENGAGE IN PLANNING ACTIVITY TO DEAL WITH THOSE ISSUES RATHER THAN HAVE THEM HAPPEN AND LITIGATE THEM. SO THAT'S REALLY KIND OF THE THRESHOLD NEED IS CONTINUED COMMUNICATION, COLLABORATION AND PLANNING EFFORTS IN PLACE TO INSENT VISE CON SER VATION SO PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THE RESOURCE. THERE'S NO SINGLE WATER BASIN IN THE COUNTRY WHERE CLIMATE CHANGE IS MORE PREVALENT THAN THE COLORADO RIVER BASIN, AND THE INCREASING TESTIMONY PA TOURS THAT HAVE BEEN OBSERVED THERE OVER TIME. AND SO WE -- WE WILL CONTINUE TO TAKE ACTIONS THAT I THINK DEMONSTRATE THE NEED FOR CONSERVATION AND EFFICIENCY PROGRAMS TO BE IN PLACE AS A RESULT OF OUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE RESOURCE. 319 IS THE LATEST ITER RATION OF THOSE SERIES OF AGREEMENTS I WAS TALKING ABOUT. THIS IS AN AGREEMENT WITH MEXICO THAT REALLY IS A WIN-WIN SITUATION FOR BOTH THE UNITED STATES AND MEXICO IN STATES THAT MAKE UP THE COLORADO RIVER BASIN, WHERE MEXICO HAS MORE FLEXIBILITY NOW TO STORE WATER AND OUR FACILITIES, WHICH HELPS US KEEP LAKE LEVELS HIGHER, WHICH HELPS DELAY OR DEFER A SHORTAGE DECLARATION OF THE COLORADO RIVER. MEXICO USES THAT STORAGE BY CREATING CONSERVATION PROJECTS IN MEXICO THAT THEY ARE STRONGLY IN FAVOR OF. U.S. ENTITIES ARE HELPING COST SHARE SOME OF THOSE PROJECTS AND THAT IS CREATING A WATER SUPPLY AVAILABLE FOR STORAGE THAT MEXICO CAN RELY ON IN TIMES OF SHORTAGE AND EXTENDED DROUGHTS. AND ALSO THROUGH THOSE SAME MECHANISMS, MEXICO AND THE UNITED STATES HAVE FACILITATED THE CREATION OF WATER USED TO SEND A FLOW DOWN THE COLORADO RIVER AND RECORRECT THE RIVER WITH THE SEA OF CORTEZ AND FOR THE FIRST TIME IN A NUMBER OF YEARS, AND THAT IS STILL GOING ON AT THIS DATE. I PARTICIPATED IN A CELEBRATION WITH MEXICAN OFFICIALS AND OFFICIALS FROM THE UNITED STATES IN HIGHLIGHTING THAT PULSE FLOW, THE BENEFITS TO THE ENVIRONMENT. AN AMAZING STORY WHERE WE UNDERSTOOD THE IMPACTS THAT IT WOULD HAVE ON THE ENVIRONMENT BY PUTTING WATER DOWN THAT RIVER AND SEEING HOW NATURE RESPONDED. BUT WE DIDN'T ANTICIPATE HOW THE COMMUNITIES IN MEXICO ALONG THE COLORADO RIVER WOULD RESPOND AND COME BACK TO THE RIVER AND CELEBRATE THERE BEING WATER THERE. SO IT WAS A ONE-TIME PULSE FLOW THAT THE RESULTED OF MINUTE 319. MINUTE 319 IS A FIVE-YEAR AGREEMENT. PROVIDES OPERATIONAL CERTAINTY, JOINT INVESTMENTS IN CONSERVATION PROJECTS, AND WATER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT. WE HOPE TO TRANSITION NOW TO BEGIN DISCUSSIONS WITH MEXICO ON A MORE LONG-TERM AGREEMENT. BUT THE GOOD NEWS IS THERE IS A LARGE BASE OF SUPPORT FROM WATER USERS FROM THE STATES, FROM THE ENVIRONMENTAL COMMUNITY, TO, OBVIOUSLY, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND OUR FRIENDS IN MEXICO IN SUPPORTING THIS TYPE OF APROFE. AND THAT JUST DEMONSTRATES THAT WHEN YOU BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER TO SOLVE A PROBLEM, BRING THEM ALL AROUND THE TABLE, GREAT THINGS CAN HAPPEN. WHEN YOU ENGAGE. 

 

>> GREAT. THANKS, MIKE. AND THE NEXT QUESTION IS FROM CHRIS IN OREGON. AND THE QUESTION IS WHAT ARE YOUR OPINIONS ABOUT PERMITTING FRACKING FOR NATURAL GAS ECK TRACTTION? AND DO YOU THINK THIS PRACTICE SHOULD BE PERMITTED ON OR NEAR ANY LANDS UNDER OF THE JURISDICTION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR? 

 

>> WELL, HYDRAULIC FRACTURING IS AN ISSUE THAT I'VE LEARNED A WHOLE LOT ABOUT IN THE LAST SIX WEEKS DURING MY TENURE AS DEPUTY SECRETARY. WE HAD AN EXTENDED CONVERSATION ABOUT THIS IN THE BUDGET HEARING THAT THE SECRETARY AND I PARTICIPATED IN FRONT OF THE HOUSE NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE A FEW WEEKS AGO. I DO THINK HYDRAULIC FRACTURING , WHEN DONE PROPERLY WITH THE RIGHT SAFEGUARDS, CAN BE A SAFE AND USEFUL TOOL TO DEVELOP UNCONVENTIONAL OIL AND GAS RESOURCES, THAT THERE IS A SAFE WAY TO DO THAT, AND IN RECOGNITION OF THAT WE ARE GOING THROUGH A PROCESS RIGHT NOW IN THE BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT OF DEVELOPING REGULATIONS ASSOCIATED WITH THE PRACTICE OF HYDRAULIC FRACTURING TO ENSURE THAT THOSE IMPORTANT ENVIRONMENTAL SAFEGUARDS ARE IN PLACE, THAT PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THE NATURE OF THE FLUID BEING USED IN HYDRAULIC FRACTURING, THAT WE ARE UPDATING -- THE REGULATIONS THAT ARE IN PLACE ARE 30 YEARS OLD. TECHNOLOGY HAS GREATLY CHANGED OVER THAT TIMEFRAME, PARTICULARLY IN THE LAST FEW YEARS. WE WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT WE'RE UPDATED IN OUR APPROACH TO PERMITTING HYDRAULIC FRACTURING. RIGHT NOW IN THE REGULATORY PROCESS, THEY ARE WADING THROUGH THE 1.3 MILLION COMMENTS THAT CAME IN ON THE PROPOSED RULE. BUT THEY'RE DOING THAT AND ANT PATE ISSUING A FINAL RULE THIS YEAR THAT'S RESPONSIVE TO THOSE COMMENTS THAT ADDRESS THE CONCERNS OF SATES -- STATES THAT HAVE GOOD PRACTICES AND GOOD REGULATIONS IN PLACE THAT WE ARE WORKING CLOSELY WITH THEM, THAT WE HAVE A PROCESS TO USE THEIR REGULATIONS AS APPROPRIATE, SAME WAY WITH TRIBAL NATIONS WHERE THERE'S A LOT OF OIL AND GAS DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITY. SO WE THINK THAT EVERYBODY HAS A VESTED INTEREST IN DEMONSTRATING THAT THE PRACTICE OF HYDRAULIC FRACTURING CAN BE DONE SAFELY TO GIVE THE PUBLIC ASSURANCES ABOUT THAT. I THINK THE PUBLIC DOES WANT THAT ENERGY DEVELOPMENT AND THE ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES THAT IT ENTAILS, SO LONG AS IT'S DONE IN A WAY THAT'S SAFE, RESPONSIBLE, AND THAT PROTECTS THEIR INTEREST AS THE COMMUNITIES RESIDING AROUND WHERE THAT PRACTICE IS TAKING PLACE. SO IT'S SOMETHING THAT WE'LL CONTINUE TO MOVE FORWARD ON AND ENGAGE INDUSTRY AND THE INTEREST OF THE PUBLIC ON. 

 

>> THANKS. AND THE NEXT QUESTION IS SOMETHING THAT SEVERAL EMPLOYEES SENT IN AND RELATED TO A NEW BUT POPULAR PROGRAM RELATED TO THE FEDERAL BIKE SHARE SUBSIDY PROGRAM THAT THE DEPARTMENT STARTED OVER THE LAST YEAR. THE QUESTION WAS IS D.I.O. PLANNING TO EXPAND IT OR DO ANYTHING OTHER TYPES OF THINGS TO HELP ENCOURAGE EMPLOYEES TO TAKE ALL TURN TIFF TRANSPORTATION TO THE OFFICE? 

 

>> WELL, I THINK IT'S A GREAT PROGRAM, AND I SEE ON A DAILY BASE ITS THAT IT'S SIGNIFICANTLY IN USE HERE. AND SO IT'S ANOTHER APPROPRIATE TOOL THAT WE HAVE TO DEMONSTRATE INTERIOR'S COMMITMENT TO SUSTAINABILITY OVERALL AND TO BE PART OF, I THINK, PRACTICING WHAT WE NEED TO DO, NOT JUST ON EARTH DAY, BUT EVERY DAY. AND SO FROM THAT STANDPOINT, I DON'T KNOW THE EXACT DISCUSSIONS ABOUT EXPANDING THE PROGRAM, BUT IF THERE ARE OPPORTUNITIES TO DO SO, WE CERTAINLY WILL TAKE A LOOK AT THAT. I KNOW WE'RE APPLYING RESOURCES IN SUPPORT OF THE BIKE PROGRAM RIGHT NOW, AND SO WE'LL SEE WHAT WE CAN DO WITH RESPECT TO NEW OPPORTUNITIES AND WHAT EMPLOYEES WANT TO SEE AS FAR AS HOW WE CAN HELP THEM CONTRIBUTE TO THE OVERALL SUSTAINABILITY OF OUR PLANET'S RESOURCES. 

 

>> GREAT. THANKS, MIKE. AND WE ARE RAPIDLY RUNNING OUT OF TIME. WE'RE GOING TO JUST HAVE ENOUGH TIME FOR TWO FINAL QUESTIONS. 

 

>> SURE. 

 

>> THIS LAST ONE, AGAIN, CAME IN FROM THE CHAT. IT ALSO CAME IN PREVIOUS. THIS IS FROM JENNIFER IN D.C. NUMEROUS POLLS SHOW THAT HISPANICS ARE EXTREMELY SUPPORTIVE OF EXPERIENCING AND PROTECTING OUR PUBLIC LANDS. WHAT IS THE DEPARTMENTS OF THE INTERIOR INTEND TO DO IN ORDER TO ENGAGE HISPANICS? 

 

>> WELL, I THINK WE'RE HAPPY TO ENGAGE ANY INTERESTED GROUPS IN WHAT THEIR CONCERNS ARE OR WHAT THEIR PASSIONS ARE ABOUT PROTECTING THE INTERESTS IN PUBLIC LANDS AND CERTAINLY THE HISPANIC COMMUNITY, PARTICULARLY IN THE WEST, A LARGE PERCENTAGE OF THE POPULATION IS AN IMPORTANT CONSTITUENCY. WE AT THE BUREAU OF RECLAMATION, STARTED WORKING WITH A GROUP, WHICH WAS SPECIFICALLY ORGANIZED BECAUSE OF CONCERNS AND A COMMITMENT TO SUSTAINED COLORADO RIVER RESOURCE. AND IT'S A RELATIVELY NEW ORGANIZATION, BUT THEY CONTRIBUTE A LOT OF GREAT IDEAS TO THE PROTECTION OF THE COLORADO RIVER. AND SO FROM THAT STANDPOINT, OUR EXPERIENCE HAS BEEN GOOD IN INTERACTING WITH THESE NEW ORGANIZATIONS. WE'D LIKE TO DO MORE OF THAT WHETHER IT BE THE HISPANIC COMMUNITY OR OTHER COMMUNITIES OF INTEREST. GETTING ANY CONSTITUENCIES INTERESTED IN THE ISSUES THAT ARE CRITICAL TO THE INTERIOR DEPARTMENT AND HAVING WORKED WITH THEM TO BETTER UNDERSTAND THEIR CONCERNS AND IMPLEMENT SOLUTIONS IS A LARGE PART OF THE SECRETARY'S STRATEGY AS WELL AS PLANNING. 

 

>> IF YOU'RE A MEMBER OF ONE OF THOSE ORGANIZATIONS AND YOU'RE LOOKING TO GET INVOLVED IN THE DEPARTMENT, YOU CAN SEND US AN EMAIL AT INFO AT IOS AT DOI.GOV. NOW WE HAVE TIME FOR ONE FINAL QUESTION. AND KIND OF COMING BACK TO THE YOUTH QUESTION, THIS IS FROM LEVI IN D.C. THE QUESTION IS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE WHO ARE INTERESTED IN CONSERVATION AS A CAREER, WHAT ARE SOME WAYS THAT THEY CAN BE INVOLVED BEYOND EARTH DAY AND ACTIVITIES THAT WILL HELP BUILD THEIR EXPERIENCES AND SKILLS? 

 

>> THAT'S A GREAT QUESTION, AND IT'S ONE THAT'S NEAR AND DEAR TO MY HEART. I HAVE TWO CHILDREN, A 17-YEAR-OLD AND A 13-YEAR-OLD. PARTICULARLY WITH RESPECT TO MY 17-YEAR-OLD, WE'RE LOOKING FOR OPPORTUNITIES TO -- FOR SUMMER EMPLOYMENT AND FOR ENGAGING IN INTERNSHIPS, WHICH IS PART OF HIS HIGH SCHOOL CURRICULUM. SO I WOULD SAY I THINK IT'S INCREDIBLE THE NUMBER OF OPPORTUNITIES THAT EXIST OUT THERE. CERTAINLY HERE AT THE INTERIOR DEPARTMENT, BEYOND EARTH DAY ACTIVITIES. WE WANT TO ENGAGE YOUTH ON A DAILY BASIS THROUGH THOSE MECHANISMS THAT I MENTIONED BEFORE. PLAY, LEARN, SERVE, AND WORK. AND SO WE WANT TO BE REACHING OUT IN THE COMMUNITY AND ENGAGING YOUTH, AND HOPEFULLY AS WE DO THAT AND OUR DIFFERENT BUREAUS AND AGENCIES DO THAT IN LOCAL COMMUNITIES, I WOULD ENCOURAGE FOLKS TO INTERACT WITH THOSE REPRESENTATIVES OUR AGENCIES, SEE WHAT OPPORTUNITIES EXIST FOR INTERNSHIPS, VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES, BUT ALSO THEY MAY HAVE AN UNDERSTANDING OF OTHER ORGANIZATIONS, WHETHER IT'S THE STUDENT CONSERVATION ASSOCIATION, WHICH IS A LARGE PROGRAM TO MORE LOCALIZE GROUPS THAT ARE LOOKING TO BRING TOGETHER VOLUNTEERS TO TAKE CARE OF CERTAIN ISSUES, WHETHER IT'S STREAM CLEANUPS, OR TAKING CARE OF PUBLIC PARKS. THERE'S LOTS OF DIFFERENT WAYS AND LOTS OF DIFFERENT ORGANIZATIONS WHO I THINK ARE LOOKING FOR YOUNG PEOPLE TO ENGAGE, TO VOLUNTEER THEIR TIME, BUT ALSO LOOKING TO EDUCATE THOSE SAME FOLKS TO HELP THEM NETWORK WITH PEOPLE IN THE COMMUNITY OF NATURAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION, AND HOPEFULLY WITH THE IDEA THAT THOSE YOUNG FOLKS WILL GET INTERESTED IN THESE ISSUES AS PART OF THEIR CAREERS. SO I THINK ENGAGEMENT WITH IN PARTICULAR LOCAL INTERIOR AGENCIES IS ONE WAY TO BE INVOLVED, BUT ALSO ENGAGING IN THAT LARGER QUESTION OF WHO ELSE DO WE KNOW OF IN DIFFERENT COMMUNITIES WHO WOULD LIKE TO SEE YOUNG PEOPLE INVOLVED AND BUILDING THAT NETWORK SO WE CAN PROVIDE AS MANY OPPORTUNITIES AS POSSIBLE. 

 

>> GREAT. THANKS, MIKE. AND WE ARE JUST PAST 3:00, SO WE'RE GOING HAVE TO END IT THERE. BUT ON THE YOUTH QUESTION AGAIN, IF YOU'RE INTERESTED IN LEARNING MORE ABOUT THE INITIATIVE, GO TO DOI.GOV/YOUTH W THAT, I WOULD LOVE TO THANG OUR DEPUTY SECRETARY MIKE CONNOR FOR JOINING US THIS AFTERNOON FOR OUR SPECIAL EARTH DAY CHAT. WE WILL BE POSTING THIS VIDEO PROBABLY TOMORROW ON DOI.GOV AND ALSO ON OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL. SO UNTIL NEXT TIME, THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR JOINING US THIS AFTERNOON. HOPE YOU HAVE A HAPPY EARTH DAY AND HOPE YOU GET A CHANCE TO GO OUT AND ENJOY SOME OF AMERICA'S PUBLIC LANDS FOR THE REST OF YOUR DAY. THANK YOU.