Secretary Salazar's Final Web-chat
April 3, 2013
Good afternoon, and welcome to the Bison Bistro. My name is Tim Fullerton, I am the Director of Digital Strategy here at the Department, and I want to thank you all for joining us this afternoon for a very special web chat with Secretary Salazar.
He will be taking your questions over the next hour on a variety of topics related to the Department. We're going to just go ahead and get started here and kick it over to the Secretary for some opening remarks before we get to your questions. Mr. Secretary.
Thank you very much, Tim. For me, as your Secretary of Interior, I've had the great honor of being the custodian of America's natural resources and America's heritage. The 76,000 employees of the Department of Interior are the very best in the country, and I am so delighted to have had the great opportunity and privilege to work with all of you, now for four years going and three months.
We are the best Department in the United States, and I'm very proud of each and every one of you and the great work you do every day.
Great. Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Well, we're going to start off with a question from Charles in Pennsylvania. He wants to know, what will you miss most about being Secretary of the Interior?
Well, first, the employees. For me, wherever I have gone, and I've been in all 50 states of the United States, I've met with employees of the Department of Interior, and make it a part of my regular visits to any one of our iconic places into these states. Because it's important that the employees hear directly from me as I work on behalf of them and on behalf of the American people here at the Department of Interior.
The work I do is work that I can only do because the employees of the Department have supported me and so I very much appreciate them. I also will miss the great landscapes that we work on here at the Department of Interior. We oversee everything on the mainland and out into the ocean floors from sea to shining sea. It's a great United States to be a part of and a great department to be the cabinet secretary.
Thank you, Mr. Secretary. We're going to move to another question. We've got a lot of, a strong variety of the same questions, so we're going to sort of generalize this one. There's been a lot of talk about sequester and tight budgets. Does Interior have the resources it needs to carry out its mission? What is the budget picture at this point in time?
We don't have the budget that we need to carry out our mission and to continue to carry out the mission. The fact is that the sequester is harsh and unnecessary and it should never have happened. In fact, when it was put together by the Congress, it was a sense that it was so draconian that it would never happen that the action would be taken, so that sequester simply would not occur.
Yet, it occurred and the consequence of sequester has meant that for us in this fiscal year, we're going to have to take about 9 percent of our budget in the remaining 6 months and that means that our employees are going to be affected. That's what hurts me a lot. It also means that the programs and services that we provide to the American public, to the nearly 500 million visitors to our many public lands are going to be impacted, as well. That is of great concern.
Then, in addition to that, there is an additional $278 million cut that is imposed on the Department by the continuing resolution for the remainder of the year. The fiscal picture today is not one that is a good one.
The President, however, has put forward a plan to the United States Congress and we will keep pushing on the Congress to act. Because the Congress should go ahead and take action that puts a fiscal house of the United States in order and at the same time funds programs that are very important to the United States of America.
To put this in context to all the people who are watching, the sequester combined with the cuts and the continuing resolution essentially erode the budget of the Department of Interior to where it was some 10 years ago.
That's not good, especially when we consider the fact that we have a population which is a very growing population, the Department of Interior is continuing to play an increasingly important role in the energy security of the United States of America. We play a huge role in tourism and recreation and the economic future of our country. The work that we do for First Americans and Alaska natives is a huge priority, and all the work that we do across this country.
I'm hopeful that the United States Congress sees the importance of making sure that government programs including here at the Department of the Interior, are funded at an appropriate level, so that we can continue to do the work that we do on behalf of the American people.
I always have said this and said it to employees just here in the last week, when you look at countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, other countries around the world, they've had a really hard time in standing up a government. But here in the United States, we can celebrate our democracy, in large part, because we have a stable government. That's one of the cornerstones of our country and I'm optimistic that we'll see better days ahead with respect to the budget issues that we currently confront.
Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Just a programming note, we noticed a lot of you on here said there were some sound difficulties. We have had those restored. If you want to hear the first two questions, we will have the full video up on our YouTube channel later today at YouTube.com/usinterior.
With that, we'll keep going with the next question, which comes from Mike. It's related to energy issues. He's asking, "Do you see our energy reliance being reduced from other sources with recent energy developments of new resources and also alternate energy resources?"
Mike, the answer to that is absolutely yes. First, our energy program under President Obama has been to make sure that we're moving forward in a way that secures a new energy future for the United States of America and also addresses a reality of climate change.
In producing energy, we have, in the last four and half years, doubled renewable energy in the United States of America. We have over 30 renewable energy projects that we've stood up with the help of all of our employees here at the Department of the Interior that we're very proud of. Doubling this renewable energy has been very much a part of what we've been able to accomplish in the last four years.
But we also have moved forward with fuel efficiency, so we have the most fuel efficient national vehicle fleet system that we have ever had. It's continuing to move that way where we ought to be at a point where we're making cars that can make more than 50 miles to a gallon of gasoline.
When we talk about our energy future and our energy program, we're talking, first of all, about using less through greater fuel efficiencies. Number two, making sure that we are diversifying our fuels off of oil and into renewable energies like solar, wind and geothermal as well as biofuels, which are a significant part of our energy portfolio today. Third, that we are continuing to invest in the kinds of research and development that will help us make sure that we have a secure energy future for the United States.
Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Sort of piggybacking off of that question, Judy would like to know, "What steps is the Department taking to deal with climate change?"
Judy, climate change for us at the Department of Interior is the real deal because we get to see it first hand, probably in a very different way than most Americans get to see it.
We get to see it first when we go to places like the Arctic and we see what's happening with the disappearance of the Arctic ice. I get to see it when I go to places like Glacier National Park and the scientists there tell me that there will be no more glaciers at Glacier National Park by the year 2020. I get to see it on the Colorado River in the Rio Grande where we're facing droughts we haven't seen for almost 1,000 years in all of those states, some 10 states that rely on those two particular basins.
Climate change is a reality and we here at the Department of the Interior are at the forefront of addressing the issue, one, because we manage the landscapes of America and the oceans of America, in many ways. We also are the scientists of where, our USGS scientists along with Bureau of Reclamation and others are so involved in the making sure that we understand the science relating to climate change.
We also are the leaders in adapting to those changes, whether it's a water supply or in managing the fish and wildlife, which is such an important role for us here in the Department. We are having to adapt to these realities of climate change. The Department of Interior will continue to be a great leader, as we address the reality of tackling climate change in the 21st century.
Great. We're going to move on to a question about Indian country and Dave wants to know, at this point, do you feel that to promote economic development in Indian country, the tools are in place, they simply need to be used more effectively? Or is there still new legislation, new funding programs, et cetera, that are needed to effectively promote development in Indian country?
That's from Dave?
Dave, let me first say that the work that we have done with First Americans and Alaska natives over the last four years has simply been historic. We resolved the Cobell litigation, which had really hamstrung this Department and our whole relationship with the Indian community throughout the United States.
We also have moved forward and have resolved water rights conflicts which had been ongoing decade after decade around the country, brought in a whole host of new empowerment efforts in Indian Country, so there's a lot that has been done.
Having said that, Indian Country still suffers from great poverty and from huge challenges, and we continue to figure out ways of doing better. There's still a lot more work to be done. We can't make the world in the way that we want to remake it, with respect to our relationship in Indian Country, in such a short time. There's just a lot more work to be done.
President Obama's direction to me has been clear. The First Americans of the United States and Alaska Natives deserve to be a part of the American dream, and to have the opportunity as everybody else.
And so, we'll continue to make sure we turn over every stone within our power to make sure that we make that happen.
To follow up on that question, Barbara in Colorado wanted to know, "What do you feel is your personal accomplishments with Indian Country as a whole, and as Secretary of the Interior?"
Barbara, first, the achievement of the new relationship, we have a relationship of respect with Indian Country, recognizing the sovereignty that Indian tribes have, the 566 tribes of the nation.
The government consultations that have been ushered in under the President's executive order have been huge. We've had four tribal conferences here at Interior, with the President of the United States and the leaders of Indian Country.
Then, specifically on programs, there are literally thousands of projects under many programs that we have implemented over the last four years. I won't go through all of them.
I'll give you one example of the Navajo water supply pipeline, which for the first time will bring potable water to the 200,000 Navajos and the residents of Gallup, New Mexico, had been a pipe dream for decades and decades and decades, and yet we have had the ribbon cutting on that.
There were 10,000 feet of the pipeline that have already been constructed. Soon, there will be real water being delivered to Navajo chapters who had never had any water supply before. So many projects like that that we've seen all around the nation that we're very proud of.
Thank you, Mr. Secretary. If you're just joining us, Secretary Salazar is answering your questions about his time here as Secretary of the Interior. We are reading some of them that have come in through email. We're also going to be getting to some on the chat in just a few minutes, so if you're interested in asking some questions, feel free to use the chat window, and we'll do our best to get there as quickly as we possibly can.
The next question is related to the National Monument announcements that we made last week. There are some people asking, are there any chances for further designations in the next coming years, and if there are, what are some of the things that the groups can do to help promote their areas that they'd like to see that designation take place?
Thank you, Tim. It is a great question. I just returned late last night from Ohio, where we celebrated the Buffalo Soldiers and Colonel Young and his home as one of the five National Monuments that the President created last Monday in the Oval Office.
We were in New Mexico with Rio Grande del Norte, in Washington State with the San Juan Islands, Delaware with First State National Park, and also in Maryland with Harriet Tubman. Those five monuments are in addition to the four monuments which the President had created earlier under his authority under the Antiquities Act, and they are places that we are proud of all around the country.
For the future, I would say that one of the hallmarks of each of these actions is the fact that there were so many people on the ground who were organizing and raising the importance of these very special places, both natural places and historic places, raising the level of attention and community engagement and involvement in support of those projects.
I would say to all of you who are watching this, and who are saying, "We have these very special places, and we would like them protected," get yourselves organized in the same way that the entire community of Taos and Taos County organized themselves, or the San Juan Islands in Washington State, or the community that supported Harriet Tubman.
All of these had great local community support, and that's one of the cornerstones of our America's Great Outdoors program, and that is that we have a conservation ethic here, which I'm very proud of, under this President, and one of the cornerstones of it is that we're listening to what the voices are telling us in the local community.
Thank you, Mr. Secretary. The next question comes from George. He wants to know, "Once the Secretary learned how big of a driver of the economy hunting and fishing is in the US, what has Interior done to promote these two things?"
Hunting and fishing is a huge economic driver in the United States, and in fact all of outdoor recreation is. We have over six million jobs a year that are created just through outdoor recreation, so you think about the hunters and the anglers, the kayakers, the boaters, the rafters, the bikers, the walkers, the bird watchers, and the list goes on. They create a huge number of jobs here in the United States.
In addition, many of our iconic places are what bring people from around the world here to the United States. We look ahead and we know that tourism and outdoor recreation are huge economic job creators for the United States of America, so we'll continue to support those efforts.
In hunting and fishing alone, I'm very proud of the fact that for the first time in many decades, we have had hunting and fishing increase in the number of anglers and hunters that we have. There's been about a 9 percent increase in the number of hunters, about a 10 percent increase in the number of anglers. That's the first time in about a 30-year history that we start seeing these numbers increase.
So, to continue to promote hunting and fishing and outdoor recreation, America's Great Outdoors has a number of initiatives that are focused in, yes, on large landscapes like the Flint Hills of Kansas and the Everglades of Florida.
But, in addition to that, we're also focused in on urban areas, where we're ushering in a new set of opportunities for people in New York and Saint Louis and Denver and Los Angeles and many other cities, to be able to connect up young people to the outdoors, to learn how to fish, to learn how to enjoy the outdoors in a way that some of us from rural America get to do every day.
Then, we've got a couple questions that fit perfectly after that answer, from both the chat and also from email earlier this week. This one specifically came from Scott in Colorado. He asks, "Do you foresee the AGO," which is for America's Great Outdoors Initiative, "carrying on after you leave Interior, and if so, in what ways?"
I do foresee it, Scott, moving on, continuing on, because this is a Presidential initiative. It's President Obama's America's Great Outdoors Initiative that covers departments beyond Interior. The Department of Agriculture, EPA, the NOAA and the other agencies are very much a part of America's Great Outdoors. Within the budgeting process for 2014, there will be chapters in there on America's Great Outdoors, so that takes us into the future.
It will continue. But it will continue, more importantly, because of the fact that it's what the American people have told us. When we started America's Great Outdoors, the President started a conversation around the country which included a conference on conservation we had here at the Department of the Interior. Then, we went out and we listened to hundreds of thousands of people about what we ought to be doing.
We're focused, yes, on urban parks, on a new agenda for rivers in America, and on making sure that these landscapes like the Everglades and the Flint Hills of Kansas are protected. But in so doing, it's about connecting people to the Great Outdoors. And so, we are doing well. We know that we still have a lot of work ahead of us, but it's a continuing journey.
Thank you. We've got several questions related to the Land and Water Conservation Fund. This question was, "How can we get the Land and Water Conservation Fund to higher levels, and what are the chances of it being extended past fiscal year 2015?"
We need to keep the fight going, because the Land and Water Conservation Fund is a cornerstone of the conservation agenda for the United States. It is what will create the conservation agenda for the next 100 years and beyond.
We have come very close over the last several years in getting full funding for the Land and Water. I am sure, in this administration, to get better funding for LWCF.
When I look at it, I look back at the fact that when LWCF was created, Tim, it was supposed to be created to take advantage of the royalties that are coming off oil and gas from the offshore areas. We currently produce about $12 billion from the offshore areas that go into the Treasury of the United States.
But yet, because it's subject to congressional appropriation, there's a very small amount of that that ultimately ends up in the Land and Water Conservation Fund. One of the things that we want to do is to make sure that funding streams do fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund fully.
There's a great set of organizations, the voices for conservation that have come together over the last year. Actually, it's over the last two years. There are about 1,300 organizations, including the most prominent wildlife and conservation organizations around the country, and they are strongly supporting LWCF. So, I believe the drumbeat will continue, and that at the end of the day, we will be successful.
Thank you. Now, we're going to take a question from Denise on the web chat. She asks, "The availability of green and open space in urban and suburban areas, as well as connectivity to parks, trails, and other recreational resources is critical. How will we prevent loss of these opportunities?"
We need to be proactive, and we need to do it, Denise, very much at the local level.
When I went to the City of New York, now some four years ago, and met with Mayor Bloomberg and a host of people who were working on Jamaica Bay there, one of the things that were very apparent to me is that the National Park Service and Interior operated very much in a siloed fashion. We didn't connect up a lot with the City of New York, and yet, 27,000 acres of the waterfront in the City of New York is managed and owned by the United States and our Department.
And so, we put together an effort, in an MOU which Mayor Bloomberg and I signed, which is creating a seamless set of parks and outdoor recreational opportunities, including the whole restoration of Jamaica Bay with biking and trail and camping opportunities. In fact, the largest urban campground in the country will be there in the New York area.
We have these kinds of examples that we can point to in the City of Saint Louis, in Denver, Colorado and the Rocky Mountain Greenway, Los Angeles, along the Los Angeles River and the San Joaquin River, a whole host of other places. We need to continue to push for those kinds of specific opportunities, and that will be a significant part of the America's Great Outdoors agenda into the future.
We're going to move to a question related to oil and gas. This is a question from Diane. She wants to know, "What are the steps that you took to stop some of the issues that were occurring prior to your tenure at Interior, and how can we be assured that it will not continue once you are gone?"
Diane, it's a good question. When I came into Interior, what we were seeing was that there was an agenda on oil and gas that basically allowed oil and gas to be developed anywhere, no matter what the environmental consequences were, regardless of whether drilling was occurring right in the vicinity of a national park or not. It was almost a drill everywhere drill you can.
We have brought an approach which is a balanced approach. We believe oil and gas drilling and exploration and production is appropriate, but not everywhere. There are places that have special ecologies and environmental values and history that we need to protect.
That's the approach that we have taken. It's the approach we've embedded in our rules and our regulations and our planning efforts here at Interior. I'm certain that those reforms will continue to be part of what will stay in place here in this Department.
Related to that, we actually have a question from David, all the way from Chile. His question is, "Is it possible to explain the Interior's role in the 'All of the Above' energy strategy that the Obama administration has put forth?"
David, we play a very critical role in the implementation of that agenda, and in having worked as part of the President's energy team in developing that agenda.
Our work first is in the production of energy. We produce much of the oil and gas on public lands here in the United States. About 30 percent of the oil and gas alone just come from the Gulf of Mexico.
We also have become great generators of renewable energy. There was very little renewable energy on public lands when President Obama came into office. Today, we have permitted over 11,000 megawatts of power on public lands. That's the equivalent of about 33 power plants of generation already on public lands in the United States of America.
Some of these power plants are the largest in the world. The largest solar power plants in the world are now sprouting from the deserts of Nevada and California. We play a significant role in developing the overall program for the President of the United States, and also in implementing it on the ground.
Thank you, Mr. Secretary. David, and anyone else, if you're interested in more information on Interior's work on energy issues, we have a whole section of our website. Just go to the home page at doi.gov, and you'll be able to find that section really easily.
Now, we're going to move to another question from the web chat. This question is, "What is the Department of the Interior doing to ensure universal accessibility to our national monuments, parks, and lands?"
It's a very good question. We are attempting to make sure that people in urban areas have access to these outdoor recreational spaces that I spoke about earlier. In addition to that, we have within our budget efforts to try to increase public access into lands that are important lands for hunting and fishing and outdoor recreation.
It's important that these resources, which belong to the American public, are accessible to the American public. If they're not accessible, then it defeats the purpose in large part. Access is a significant part of what we are accomplishing for the America's Great Outdoors program.
Thank you, Mr. Secretary. We're going to take another question from the web chat. "What measures has the Department taken to combat the series of extreme weather events which have affected the US in 2012, such as drought, wildfires, and Hurricane Sandy?"
We saw extreme weather events in 2012 which devastated, obviously, much of New York and New Jersey, and the wildfires that we saw in Colorado and Utah and, really, throughout the west over last summer. We're working to do everything that we can to make sure that as we rebuild, that there is resiliency in how places are being rebuilt.
For example, with Hurricane Sandy and the response efforts there, the investments that are going in to all of the wildlife refuges and the national parks along the Atlantic seaboard are going to be significant. They will be taking into account the fact that we have rising seas and storm surges that we didn't see before. Our facilities will be more resilient, and our communities around these facilities will also be more resilient as a result of some of these efforts.
Fires, it's a huge issue. It'll continue to be a huge issue in 2014. In 2013, we expect, just because of the drought conditions that are prevalent now over much of the United States of America. We are hurt by the sequester, and that we don't have the same number of firefighters to fight these fires. It's going to be touch-and-go as we go through the summer, but we are attempting to do everything we can to be smarter in how we're protecting the urban-wildland fire interface, and how communities are working with us to protect people and to protect their homes from fires that are sure to occur.
Thank you, Mr. Secretary. We're getting a lot of really great questions on the web chat, so we're going to keep firing through as many of these as we can over the next few minutes. This next question is related to private enterprise working with the Department. "What is the process for private enterprise to work with the Department on a variety of initiatives? Specifically, how would a business with an innovative idea reach out to your organization?"
We work with the private sector in the Department all the time, obviously, in our capacity as the land managers for 20 percent of the lands here in the United States, as well as 1.7 billion acres of the ocean floor. We have a huge interface with the private sector.
In terms of ideas that people might have relative to work that we can do here to enhance our relationship, we're always open. I have an Assistant Secretary, Rhea Sue, head of the Policy Management and Budget Office, or just communicate to us on our website with your ideas. The fact of the matter is, Tim, as we know, we don't have all the wisdom in the world here to know what all the answers are to the tough issues that we face, so we welcome your ideas.
We are, by the way, the Department that has, I think, one of the largest small-business participation efforts. I think about 60 percent of all of the work that goes out from the Department actually goes to small businesses, so small businesses are a very key part of our constituency here at the Department of the Interior.
Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Also, you can contact us on our website, and also I would suggest emailing email@example.com, and we'll make sure that we get you to the right department.
We have probably 10 minutes left, so we're going to keep trying to get through as many of these as we can.
This one came in on email, earlier this week, from Levi. Their question is, "One of the initiatives that you have championed is the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps, which is a modern version of the Civilian Conservation Corps that will employ young people in service to America's public lands. 10 years from now, how do you hope this initiative will be viewed?"
Levi, I hope that in 10 years from now that we'll have 100,000 young Americans working on our public lands around the country, much as the Civilian Conservation Corps did during the days of the Great Depression.
When I became Secretary of Interior, it was not a priority. We have created a program where, last year alone, we had over 22,000 young people, ages 15 to 25, who were working at our wildlife refuges, our national parks, our BLM national monuments, and all around the Department. We're going to continue to do that, to see how far we can push the 21st Century Civilian Conservation Corps, with all of our partners, including the Student Conservation Association and others.
My hope, frankly, is that it grows, and really for several reasons. First, we need to have a new generation of people that come and work here at the Department. We will have about 40 percent of our Department employees who will be retirement eligible between now and 2016, and so, the young people who come and work for us really become the workforce of the future.
Second of all, it also helps us deliver on the mission of the Department when you have, people who are out there working to maintain trails or helping biologists count fish and do all the rest of the work we do here at the Department of the Interior. It also has a way of getting some great work done by young people who are great contributors to the Department.
Thank you, Mr. Secretary. This question comes from Robert, and he would like to know, what do you see as the federal role in the restoration of the Salton Sea?
Robert, thank you for the question. I visited the Salton Sea with Senator Barbara Boxer and with other members of Congress not too long ago, and there is a significant role. It's a very complicated issue because the Salton Sea, as you know, is an artificial sea, but it also is one of the most important wildlife habitats along that whole Pacific Flyway.
One of the immediate things we're trying to do is to figure out how we can protect and expand one of the wildlife refuges that is right there next to the Salton Sea. We're hopeful that we'll find ways of being able to get that done in the short term.
The longer term issues have to do with securing water supply, so we're working very closely with the state of California in looking at their comprehensive plan for the Salton Sea and how it is that we at Interior might be able to help with that effort.
We're going to move from the Salton Sea to Alaska. Verner on the chat, is asked, says, "You have called Bristol Bay Alaska a national treasure for its huge runs of wild salmon and other fisheries that provide 40 percent of America's wild seafood. What is your vision for protecting Bristol Bay?"
Bristol Bay is one of the iconic places of America that should, in fact, be protected and protected forever. The President and I, in putting together the plans for the Outer Continental Shelf put Bristol Bay off limits to oil and gas development. That's under the current authority that we have with regard to one law, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.
My personal hope is that we continue to build on that protection so that Bristol Bay is, in fact, protected forever.
We are going to have time for three more questions. For those of you who are just joining us, we'll have the video of this whole entire web chat up on our YouTube channel at YouTube.com/usinterior. We'll have three more questions and then we'll have a wrap up from the Secretary and we'll be done.
This question comes from Lowell in Maryland. His question is, we hear, Mr. Secretary, or what is the biggest single achievement that our community could collectively work together to accomplish during the current administration's remaining four years?
That's a very broad question, Lowell, but let me respond in probably an equally broad way.
I think what we need more in the United States of America than ever before is unity and it's people of the country that really give voice to the greatness in each of us and in our communities.
We have been dealing with a Congress that has been very much in gridlock and that's why we're dealing now with a sequester that shouldn't have happened and dealing with some tough fiscal issues that are really unnecessary to the greatness of this country. Unnecessary only in that we need to deal with the fiscal issues that are so important to us and those are being dealt with. But it needs to be dealt in a balanced way.
I would say continuing to let the voices of the American people speak to the members of Congress so we can accomplish an agenda which is equal to what the expectations are of the United States of America.
We need to tackle the major issues of energy and climate change and put together an immigration reform package which is comprehensive that lives up to the moral values that we have as a country. We need to make sure that the conservation legacy of the United States of America is one that is going to withstand the test of time and that we'll be very proud of in the year 2113.
There's a lot of work that has to be done, but at the end of the day, a democracy like the United States of America responds when the people of America raise their voices. I hope that that's what happens in Maryland and everywhere else around the country.
We got this question in a variety of formats, so we'll try to ask it as broadly as possible so that it helps answer as many people's questions as possible. In your four years at Interior, what was what you felt was your greatest accomplishment and what was the one thing you thought was the biggest regret in your time at Interior?
The greatest accomplishment at Interior, really, was that we reformed the Department of Interior. When I came in as Secretary, now over four years ago, the Department was downtrodden, science had been forgotten. The conservation agenda was second and it was basically a place where oil and gas leases were being handed out everywhere willy nilly.
Today, we have reformed the Department of Interior. We have an agenda which is a robust and comprehensive agenda on conservation. Started with a signing by the President of the 2009 Public Lands Act, which is the most important conservation legislation in 30 years, culminated in the Capstone just last week with the President signing off on five national monuments.
We have moved forward with an all of the above energy strategy that has captured the power of the sun and the power of geothermal and the power of the wind. We're moving forward, as well, with this whole new relationship with the First Americans of the United States of America. That all is part of a reform agenda which I am very proud of.
In terms of what we would have done differently, I can't think of many things that we would have done differently. We worked tirelessly on behalf of the American people.
Hasn't been me. I worked hard, yes, but it really is the 76,000 employees of the Department of the Interior. Those are the career employees who have really made the biggest contribution. I'm very proud of them, very proud of the leadership of the Department as well as our career employees throughout.
We have one final question for you, and it comes from Alex on the chat. Their question is, what advice would you give to Sally Jewell who is the president's nominee to be the next Secretary of the Interior?
My advice to Sally would be to enjoy the job. It is a joyful journey, a joyful place. The things that we get to do here at the Department of Interior that the Secretary of Interior gets to do are unparalleled. We get to see the world.
For me, exploring the Everglades and the Arctic and the Arctic seas and the rivers of Washington State and Acadia and Maine, and all the great places that I've gotten to see and the people that I've gotten to work with, it is truly a joyful journey. For me, it has been a very joyful chapter of my life. I expect that Secretary designee Jewell will have the same kind of joyful journey.
She is an outstanding pick by the President of the United States. We've known her for a long time. She'd been a champion of conservation, including a champion for the Land and Water Conservation Fund for a long time. I'm certain that she will be an outstanding Secretary of Interior, and i wish her the very, very best.
Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Thank you for everyone tuning in today. We had the most questions and the best questions I think we've ever had in the three years of doing these. I want to thank the Secretary for taking the time over the last few years to join us for these chats every once in a while. It's been an honor to be a part of these, and I know people really appreciated you taking the time.
I'll just turn it over to you for some final remarks, and then we'll wrap this up.
Thank you very much, Tim. The digital age, we now do these things. In the past, people would learn about the Department, mostly through newspapers and occasionally through television.
Now, the digital world is upon us and Tim Fullerton and the entire communications team have really created, not only major reform, but it's really been a revolution in how we communicate through new media. In fact, some of you, hopefully, have already checked out our Instagram and the great photographs that are coming in from all around the country that really show the splendor of our planet.
In closing, what I would just say to all of you who are on this web chat, we have some great days ahead. I've never been more optimistic about the United States of America and our world.
It's important for us to know that the whole Earth follows what we do here in the United States in the areas of energy, conservation, indigenous people, water, youth, all of those things that we talked about during this web chat. Continue to follow what this Department does, because it has a huge impact on the lives and the future of our nation, but also on the future of the world.
Thank you very, very much.
Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Thank you everyone for tuning in.
If you'd like to contact us, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be in touch in the near future. Thank you very much.