Speech: Secretary Salazar's Remarks at FY 2011 Budget Press Conference

Last edited 09/29/2021

Main Interior Building - Yates Auditorium

Good Afternoon and welcome to the Department of the Interior.

Our mission at Interior is as simple as it is profound: we protect America's natural resources and cultural heritage. Today I will review our 2011 budget request as we seek to advance our mission to protect the Nation's natural resources and cultural heritage.

Just one year ago President Obama was inaugurated into the White House with a promise of change.

The President challenged all of us – each of us – you and me – to give our best, and to be a part of the American Renewal.

The Interior Department has a vital role in helping address the most difficult economic time for the Nation since the Great Depression. We are a Department that helps power our economy through job creation.

Through our collective effort in protecting America's natural resources and cultural heritage, we support 1.3 million jobs for the American people and help generate over $370 billion in economic activity a year;

Our parks, refuges and monuments alone generate over $24 billion in recreation and tourism;

Energy produced on lands and waters managed by Interior results in $292 billion in economic benefits;

And we support our Nation's food security with over $25 billion through water we supply to America's farms.

As Secretary of the Interior, I can assure you that every member of our team understands the importance of our work for the Nation.

The Department of the Interior is meeting our challenges head on. We are moving as one Department in a new direction.

We are:

  • Fighting to protect and restore the places that Americans love;
  • We are building a clean energy economy and tackling the impacts of climate change;
  • We are working to do right by Indian Nations;
  • We are connecting our kids with the great outdoors;
  • We are finding consensus and solutions to the water challenges our country faces;
  • And we are changing how Interior does business.

In 2009 we charted a new course for Interior. Our 2011 budget continues our progress in each of these key areas, building on our success of the last year.

The budget also reflects the tough economic realities of our time. This has been a difficult year for many Americans, a year of saving pennies and tightening belts.

We at Interior know that we must make the most out of every dollar we spend. We know the American taxpayer deserves our fiscal responsibility.

We took a hard look at all of our programs across the Department, and found efficiencies in each and every one of them.

Based on the imperative to run a more efficient government, we found over $750 million in program reductions and terminations for the elimination of one-time funding and for lower priority programs.

We are ending programs that are broken.

We are streamlining the programs that work.

For example, using the President's SAVE awards as an inspiration we found $82 million in management efficiencies in areas such as travel and IT spending.

In addition we are absorbing all of our pay and benefit increases this year, which amounts to a savings of over $100 million. In so doing, we continue to fully support our employees who are the engine of success for the Department.

I know these are not easy times. I know these are not easy budgets. But President Obama and I are resolute in our determination and faith about America's bright future.

One of my first priorities when I came into office was to create a new frontier for renewable energy production in America.

The President and I believe that America must move to a clean energy economy that creates jobs, reduces our dependence on foreign oil, and protects our children and planet from the dangers of pollution.

Already, we have identified or set aside for potential solar energy development 1,000 square miles of public lands. We are also working to help find the right location for 5,000 miles of new transmission lines.

The 2011 budget builds on those accomplishments with a $73 million investment in renewable energy programs, a $14 million increase over 2010.

The Bureau of Land Management is at the forefront of this initiative. Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, BLM has already allocated over $40 million for permits in 65 large-scale wind, solar and geothermal projects.

This is just the beginning. BLM has already received more than 220 applications for utility-scale solar projects in six western states.

We don't have the luxury of time; these projects are needed now to create energy jobs here at home. We at Interior, with President Obama's inspiration, are using America's public lands to lead the renewable energy revolution.

Using the Department's four Renewable Energy Coordination offices we have agreed, BLM will be able to fast track these projects.

In so doing, we will not sacrifice the natural resources we protect. Our 2011 budget ensures that the road towards a clean energy future will be lined with the necessary environmental protections.

The $3.0 million increase for BLM will be for site-specific environmental studies of potential solar energy sites in Nevada and for regional studies of potential wind energy zones in Nevada and Oregon.

We are also investing in sound science, which will be the basis of our policies and decisions as we move forward.

The US Geological Survey has a $3.0 million increase to analyze and document the effects of renewable energy development on wildlife populations.

The Fish and Wildlife Service also has a $4.0 million increase to fulfill our endangered species consultation requirements for new projects.

Through our investments we will be able to meet the President's goal of increasing the capacity for renewable production on Interior managed lands, while ensuring full environmental review. Our goal, which is an ambitious goal, is to permit 9,000 megawatts of renewable power by the end of 2011. That is the equivalent amount of power generated from 25 mid-size coal fired power plants, and is enough energy to power millions of households each year.

Our potential for renewable development doesn't stop at our shores.

The 1.7 billion acre Outer Continental Shelf abounds with untapped potential for wind, solar, and wave energy.

Over the past year we have been building the framework to guide renewable energy development on the OCS, and with the framework now in place we anticipate a substantial increase in leasing activity.

The Minerals Management Service has a $3 million increase for region specific planning needs.

The MMS will work with States and local partners to develop the expert knowledge necessary to move forward with renewable energy development on the OCS.

In our push towards a new energy frontier we must always be mindful that conventional energy programs are an equally important component of the nation's energy portfolio.

Conventional energy is essential for our economic and our national security.

It reduces our dependence on foreign oil and provides jobs here at home.

It generates billions of dollars in revenue every year for the American taxpayer.

We have an exemplary record of providing revenue for the US Treasury.

In 2011 we estimate that $12 billion in revenue will be generated from the sale of mineral resources from our public lands.

Because we must ensure that American taxpayers get a fair return, I have ordered a thorough review of royalty rates.

The 2011 budget contains $4 million in increases for the MMS in support of oil and gas development on the OCS.

Additional increases will support future development and improve the oversight of energy revenue management.

We must also tackle the impacts of a changing climate and to protect our children and our planet from the dangers of pollution.

Climate change is affecting every corner of the American continent.

The glaciers in Montana's Glacier National Park are melting. Our scientists tell us they are expected to disappear before 2020.

The world's first wildlife refuge – Florida's Pelican Island, which President Teddy Roosevelt set aside in 1903 – is slowly being consumed by rising seas.

And the water supplies of the Colorado River shared by the Nation's seven southwestern states may decline by as much as 20%. That sharp reduction in available water will resurrect the water wars of the past between the States and competing uses of an already limited, overstressed water supply.

These are symptoms of a large-scale problem that requires a comprehensive approach.

We must, therefore, integrate the combined talents of governments at all levels, the private sector and others to address the challenge.

The climate change meeting in Copenhagen set the stage for the global collaboration necessary to address the causes and solutions to climate change.

Our 2011 budget begins to tackle the reality of climate change with $171 million, an increase of $35 million over 2010.

The increase will support Interior's high priority goal of identifying the areas and species most vulnerable to climate change, and to begin implementing comprehensive adaptation strategies.

We will focus on three primary areas to achieve our goal:

First, Climate Impact Science, which will improve our understanding of the impacts of climate change on our resources;

Second, Data Integration and Dissemination, which will improve our nation's scientific database;

And third, we will enable science-based adaptation strategies.

These new approaches will form the foundation for the Climate Science Centers that Interior is already establishing on a regional basis around the country.

And for the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, which are geographically-based cooperatives in which all Interior bureaus will collaborate with outside partners to understand the impacts of climate change and facilitate a coordinated response.

Our Climate Change initiative will allow Interior bureaus to both meet their individual mission, and work in synergy with partners to implement integrated science, adaptation and mitigation strategies across broad landscapes.

Another great challenge for the Nation and Interior will be developing a sustainable water conservation strategy.

With dwindling water supplies, lengthening droughts, and a rising demand for water in many areas of the country, a sustainable water strategy for America's water resources is a high priority.

Aging infrastructure, rapid population growth, impaired water quality, and climate variability all play a role in determining the amount of fresh water available at any given place or time.

We must ensure stable, secure water supplies for future generations.

To that end we have developed a new sustainable water strategy known as Water Smart, which will Sustain and Manage America's Resources for Tomorrow.

The 2011 budget for our WaterSMART Initiative is $73 million, an increase of $36 million over 2010.

The Bureau of Reclamation, the largest supplier and manager of water in the west, has $62 million in 2011 for WaterSMART grants, basin studies, and water reclamation and reuse programs.

With this funding the Bureau of Reclamation will be able to fund 60 to 75 new WaterSMART projects.

Another key component of this initiative is funding the science necessary to close the gap in understanding of how much water we will need in the future.

The 2011 budget includes $9 million to fund a WaterSMART availability and use assessment program.

This comprehensive approach will study our current water supplies and uses, as well as our future needs.

Combined with the investments made through the Bureau of Reclamation we are laying the foundation for a sustainable Water SMART strategy for the future.

I've spoken today of the challenges we face going forward, and the steps we are taking to protect our natural resources.

Perhaps the greatest investment we can make, however, is in creating a 21st Century Conservation agenda for today and tomorrow. As part of that agenda, we must help our children get close to nature while helping the natural resources upon which their future depends.

We at the Department of the Interior are uniquely qualified to create the next generation of conservation leaders.

We can change the lives of millions of young Americans and in doing so also transform the Department with a new generation of leaders.

We, therefore, will employ thousands of young people to help protect our communities and restore our environment.

We will educate millions of youth about our lands, our waters, our parks, and our heritage.

And we will reach youth from all backgrounds and all walks of life.

I have challenged all of our bureaus to increase the employment of youth in our conservation mission by 50 percent this year, and 60 percent next year. This means thousands of young people will have an opportunity to work on our mission to protect America's natural resources and cultural heritage.

The budget contains $45 million to implement this effort, an increase of $9 million over last year.

We are also dedicating an additional $6 million from Recreational Fees for youth oriented programs in the National Park Service.

This funding will build on our current strengths and partnerships, and introduce new ways to significantly expand on their success.

Our investment in our future conservation leaders is only half the story. We must also invest today in our treasured landscapes that give Americans a unique sense of place on our planet with the lands and places that set our Nation apart.

Every year, Americans lose too many acres to development.

Our great leaders of the past – John Muir, President Theodore Roosevelt, Rachel Carson, and many others – had the foresight to value conservation and set aside our treasured lands that define America's outdoors today.

We call those lands National Parks, National Wildlife refuges, and the National Landscape Conservation System.

Our 2011 budget embraces President Obama's agenda to protect America's great outdoors and treasured landscapes.

The budget includes $445 million for land acquisition and State Grants, an increase of $106 million.

The increase will support integrated landscape conservation strategies.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund is one of the greatest gifts left to us by the previous generation.

On Valentine's Day 1963 President John F. Kennedy wrote a letter to Congress transmitting the initial LWCF legislation.

President Kennedy noted the need for a program to buy land and protect it for future generations.

We must fulfill our commitment to this great legacy. President Obama's 2011 budget protects open spaces, forests, and wildlife habitat by providing $619 million for the LWCF.

This is a 27 percent increase over 2010 funding, and the 2010 budget was a 38 percent increase over the 2009 budget.

With these consecutive increases we are on track to reach full funding of $900 million by 2014.

Some may ask how we can afford to invest our money in the LWCF of economic crises.

But history has shown us that our best ideas for protecting our vast lands and open spaces have coincided with our most difficult days as a nation.

Abraham Lincoln set aside the lands for what is now Yosemite during the civil war.

Teddy Roosevelt became the Nation's wilderness warrior a century ago in the midst of economic strife.

And Franklin Roosevelt created wildlife refuges and protection of lands to combat the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl.

Today our public lands are majestic natural wonders; they are battlefields that help tell the story of America; they are cultural sites that preserve our arts and literature; and they are monuments dedicated to our great leaders.

Quite simply, they help define us as a nation, both to our past and to our future.

We know that in America our national character is rooted in our landscapes.

The President and I believe that now is the time to write a new chapter for these treasured lands.

Our plan to fully fund LWCF is one part of our Treasured Landscapes initiative. Restoring America's great ecosystems is a part of this effort.

The 2011 budget includes significant new funding for the restoration and renewal of key ecosystems part of this effort.

One of the most threatened ecosystems is the Everglades. This National Park was once a mosaic of ponds, sawgrass and marshes.

Sadly the Everglades no longer exhibit the functions, richness, and size that historically defined this ecosystem.

During this past year we have already broken ground on the one mile bridge on the Tamiami Trail, which is a key component in our ongoing efforts to revive the everglades.

In 2011 the Department will invest an additional $6 million in the restoration of the Everglades.

The California Bay-Delta is another ecosystem at the point of collapse, with fish species at all-time low population levels, and a multitude of threats to the quality of the water and a way of life in California.

Last December the Administration signed an interim action plan to protect the Bay-Delta, which provides drinking water to 25 million Californians and sustains $400 billion in annual economic activity.

In 2011 Interior will invest $50 million in new funding in both short term actions and a long term strategy to provide a sustainable water system and a successful ecosystem restoration.

The wetlands along Louisiana and Mississippi's Gulf Coast are another ecosystem in desperate need of restoration. The Fish and Wildlife Service owns and manages 300,000 acres along the coast.

With a $5 million investment in 2011 the Department will support the restoration of key fish and wildlife habitat in these National Wildlife Refuges along the Gulf Coast.

These efforts will serve as a demonstration area for the rest of the impacted coast.

The Chesapeake Bay is yet another critical ecosystem that is in peril. This watershed encompasses 64,000 square miles, parts of six states and the District of Columbia.

It is the largest estuary in the Country, the watershed is home to nearly 17 million people and over 3,600 species from blue crabs to bald eagles.

Last May President Obama signed an Executive Order on Chesapeake Bay Protection and Restoration to reduce pollution and clean up the Bay.

The 2011 budget contains an additional $10 million to conserve and protect the Bay's resources.

Another ecosystem crying out for help is the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes region abounds with globally unique features, including 180 species of native fish.

The Great Lakes contain 20 percent of the world's fresh water.

Yet the Great Lakes are not as resilient as they appear, and face threats from biological and chemical stresses.

In 2011 Interior will receive $50 million to help restore the Great Lakes.

I have spoken today about our new energy frontier, about our need to tackle the impacts of climate change, and all that we need to do to protect our treasured landscapes for future generations.

We have another obligation here at Interior, and it's as important as anything we do.

We must honor America's commitments and promises to the American Indian and Alaska Native communities we serve.

Broken promises will no longer be tolerated by this government.

Last November President Obama and I presided over the historic White House Tribal Nation's Conference, attended by over 400 Tribal leaders.

On that historic November day the President pledged to strengthen Nation to Nation relationships, improve the tribal consultation process, and empower strong and stable Indian Communities.

Since that day less than three months ago, we negotiated the settlement of the long running and highly contentious lawsuit known as Cobell, ending 14 years of litigation. The Cobell litigation had created a poisonous relationship between the United States and millions of our Nation's First Americans.

Now that Cobell has been resolved, when approved by Congress, we can usher in a new beginning. The settlement includes a $2 billion Land Consolidation Fund, to address the fractionation of Indian lands – which will remove a large impediment to economic development throughout Indian Country.

We will also advance Nation-to-Nation relationships with $30 million in new investments to strengthen tribal governments.

We will also protect Indian Country with $20 million in new funding that will increase federal collaboration and support the President's goal of reducing crime in Indian Country.

We will advance Indian Education with $9 million in new investments to address environmental and safety issues at Bureau of Indian Education schools.

Lastly we will improve trust land management with $12 million in new funding to develop energy, protect water rights, and improve the safety of dams on Indian lands.

In total we are investing $2.6 billion in Indian Affairs to further the ultimate goal of greater self-determination, greater opportunity, and greater prosperity for the first Americans.

We have many challenges before us.

The work that awaits us won't be easy.

We must meet our challenges while also controlling our spending.

Yet, as I think about the path that lies ahead I am inspired.

I am inspired everyday by the 70,000 employees who bring their best to Interior each and every day.

I am inspired by President Obama's leadership and support.

Through the President's leadership we will together

  • Create a new energy frontier and tackle the impacts of climate change;
  • We will together develop a sustainable WaterSMART Strategy;
  • We will together empower our youth to be the next generation of conservation leaders;
  • We will together protect our treasured landscapes; and
  • And, we will honor our commitments to American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Our work touches the lives of each and every American, providing jobs and opportunities that can only be found here at home.

I look forward to working with the Congress, States, Tribes, and all Americans in the year ahead.

Together we will bring about the American renewal.

To quote President Obama, “Let's seize the moment – to start anew, to carry the dream forward, to strengthen our union once more.”

Thank You.

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