The House Appropriations Committee Reported the 2002 Interior Bill

June 13, 2001

The full Committee made no significant changes in the bill as reported by the Interior Subcommittee. It may be considered on the House floor as soon as next week

The only Department of the Interior related amendments adopted were report language amendments. Of these, the only one making a specific change in funding levels was an amendment to provide $7.5 million for rehabilitation of the SS Thayer at the San Francisco Maritime NHS by reducing funding for projects at Brown v. Board of Education NHS and Cape Cod NS.

A limitation rider to prohibit use of funds in the bill to initiate pre-leasing studies related to possible drilling for oil and gas in ANWR was defeated by a vote of 21 to 38. The bill, as reported by the Interior Subcommittee, does not include the $2 million requested in the budget for ANWR activities. The sponsor of the amendment, Mr. Obey, stated that the purpose of the amendment was to make clear that no other money in the bill could be used for this purpose.

Also defeated was a report language amendment urging the land management agencies to adopt consistent policy and management practices prohibiting the feeding of bears. The vote was 25 to 38.

The following are the highlights of the bill, as reported.

The bill as reported from the Appropriations Committee provides $9.4 billion for Department of the Interior programs. This is an increase of $253.4 million above the President's budget, but is $66.3 million below the 2001 enacted level based on our scoring.

For all programs covered by the bill, the Committee provides $18.9 billion, an increase of $791 million above the President's budget. This is $88 million above 2001 based on the Committee's scoring, but $145 million below based on OMB scoring.

On Presidential initiatives, the Committee:

  • Funds the Landowner Incentive and Stewardship Grant proposals at the requested level of $60 million. These programs are funded in separate accounts, rather than as part of FWS land acquisition as proposed by the President.

  • Funds LWCF Federal land acquisition at the request level of $390 million (including $131 million for Forest Service).

  • Funds BIA school construction at the request level.

  • Funds the full $340 million appropriations request for NPS backlog reduction. The Committee declines to mandate that 60% of fees go for backlog reduction, but states its expectation that NPS will come close to meeting this goal.

  • Increases the NPS Natural Resource Challenge by $20 million, as requested.

The Committee did not accept the Administration proposal for Stateside LWCF. The Stateside program is funded at $154 million, without the new flexibility proposed in the budget. Various wildlife grant programs are increased above the President's budget, including the State Wildlife grant program, which is funded at $100 million.

Bureau operating accounts are generally funded at levels consistent with or slightly above the President's request. The Geological Survey, however, is funded at $900 million, $87 million above the budget. The Office of the Solicitor receives $45 million, $2.8 million above the budget.

Other major changes from the budget are increases of $37 million for AML grants and $50 million for PILT, returning these programs to the 2001 level.

Wildland fire rehabilitation is increased $42 million above the budget. All other components of the fire program are funded at the request level.

The BLM energy and minerals program is funded at $93.5 million, $2 million above the budget and $16.8 million above this year. The full increase is earmarked for various activities, including $3 million for NPR-A. ANWR is not among the activities for which funding is earmarked.

The Subcommittee mark provides $8.47 million for ESA listing, the same amount as the budget. It does not include the listing language proposed in the budget, but does establish separate caps for the ongoing listing program ($2.47 million) and for critical habitat designations for previously listed species ($6 million).

The mark includes legislative language extending the Recreation Fee Demonstration Program for an additional four years, though 2006, on essentially the same terms as the current program.