Department of the Interior Contributed $371 Billion to U.S. Economy in 2012, Supporting 2.3 Million Jobs, Report Shows

Economic Contributions Range from Outdoor Recreation to Energy and Other Resource Development

Last edited 09/05/2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. –The activities of the Department of the Interior contributed $371 billion to the U.S. economy in 2012, supporting 2.3 million jobs in activities including outdoor recreation and tourism, energy development, grazing and timber harvest, according to a new report released today.

“The missions of the Department of the Interior contribute to our nation's economy in ways big and small,” said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. “From the billions in revenues generated from oil and gas development, to the jobs created from tourism to our national parks and public lands, Interior's activities are an important source of business development and employment for communities and families in all 50 states.”

The U.S. Department of the Interior Economic Report for Fiscal Year 2012, prepared by Interior's Office of Policy Analysis, estimates the economic contributions of the department, including land and water management; energy and mineral development on public lands; encouraging tourism and outdoor recreation at national parks, monuments and refuges; wildlife conservation, hunting and fishing; support for American Indian tribal communities and Insular Areas; and scientific research and innovation.

The report is the fourth in a series of annual economic reports initiated by Interior in 2009. This year's report features a state-by-state map that illustrates Interior's contributions across the country. A link to the map is available here.

Some highlights from the report include:

Recreation: In FY 2012, national parks, national wildlife refuges and other lands managed by the Interior Department hosted an estimated 417 million visits, contributing $45 billion to the economies of local communities and supporting 372,000 jobs.

Fossil Fuel Energy: Energy produced from Interior lands in FY 2012 -- which included 626 million barrels of crude oil, 5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and 460 million tons of coal -- contributed $230 billion to the national economy and supported 1.2 million jobs.

Renewable Energy: The Bureau of Land Management and other Interior agencies approved the installation of 315 megawatts of wind capacity and 489 megawatts of solar power projects on public lands during the fiscal year. In addition, Bureau of Reclamation facilities produced produced 47.5 terawatt hours of hydropower in 2012. These renewable energy activities contributed $4.4 billion to the economy and supported 18,000 jobs.

Non-fuel (hardrock) minerals: In FY 2012, hardrock mining on Interior lands produced a wide variety of minerals, including an estimated 3 million ounces of gold and contributing $21 billion to the economy and supporting 110,000 jobs.

Forage, Grazing and Timber: Interior lands produced nearly 9 million animal unit months and 541,000 million board feet of timber in FY 2012. Forage and grazing activities contributed $1.5 billion to the economy and supported about 19,000 jobs. Meanwhile, timber harvest, which included BLM and tribal lands, contributed $1.4 billion and supported 7,100 jobs.

Water: The Bureau of Reclamation and the Bureau of Indian Affairs stored and delivered water for agricultural, municipal and industrial users, contributing $47.4 billion to the economy and supporting 339,000 jobs.

Grants/Payments: Grant and payment programs administered by Interior supported activities such as reclamation of abandoned mine lands, historic preservation, conservation, and tribal governance. These activities contributed $11 billion to the economy and supported 89,000 jobs.

Jewell noted that many Interior Department activities, such as conservation of wetlands and wildlife habitat, have long-term economic contributions that are not easily calculated and are not included in the report's totals.

“It's difficult to quantify the value of protecting our nation's hunting or ranching heritage, the benefits of healthy watersheds and air quality, or the power of ensuring our treasured landscapes and historic places will be accessible to the next generation,” she said. “These actions have very real contributions to communities, citizens and property values and make us rich in ways that can't be counted.”

The full 161-page economic report, which includes a discussion of analysis and methodology, is available here.


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