Underscores Administration Support for Renewable Energy and Infrastructure Development
WASHINGTON, D.C. - President Obama has proposed a fiscal year (FY) 2017 budget for the Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs (OIA), which works to empower island communities in the Pacific and Caribbean regions by encouraging economic activity, building governmental capacity, and promoting effective governance. OIA accomplishes these goals by providing funding and technical assistance to the U.S. insular territories; coordinating Federal policy for these American communities; and administering mandated payments to the freely associated states.
“This is a smart, innovative and forward-looking budget that invests in Interior’s key missions – now and in the future – so we can continue to serve the American people,” said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. “The President’s budget provides targeted investments to create economic opportunities by growing our domestic energy portfolio, building climate resilient communities, and revitalizing America’s national parks as we mark their 100th anniversary.”
“President Obama’s budget demonstrates his strong commitment to the U.S. territories and freely associated states,” said Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas, Esther Kia’aina. “The proposed budget recognizes that our island communities are confronting energy security, infrastructure and ecosystem challenges, many due to a changing climate and sea level rise. The President’s support for community, landscape and infrastructure adaptation and resilience initiatives will ultimately be key to improving quality of life and creating economic opportunities.”
The President’s $652.7 million budget request for OIA includes $102.7 million in annual appropriations and $550 million in permanent and indefinite appropriations mandated by law to the U.S. territories and the freely associated states.
The annual appropriations invest in a variety of technical assistance and operational programs that support all of the insular areas. Noteworthy investments include $5 million to pursue sustainable energy strategies; $2 million for natural resources protection including the Coral Reef Initiative and efforts to address invasive species; $4 million in public school maintenance; $4 million to provide support for community, landscape and infrastructure adaptation and resilience initiatives; $17.1 million in technical assistance for insular area governments; and $22.8 million to support American Samoa Government operations. Mandatory funding for capital improvement projects is $27.7 million.
Permanent appropriations for FY 2017 include mandated funding to Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI). Guam will receive an estimated $79 million in tax payments from active-duty military and federal retirees on Guam. These payments, known as Section 30 funds after the law authorizing them, are collected by the federal government and transferred to Guam to support public safety, health care, education and other public services and operations. The USVI is scheduled to receive an estimated $209 million in Rum Cover Over funds, which supports government operations and public services. Under current law, any excise tax collected on USVI manufactured rum imported into the United States is “covered-over” by transfer to the USVI.
The President’s FY 2017 budget request includes $262 million in payments to the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Palau and the Republic of the Marshall Islands to promote economic advancement and budgetary self-reliance in support of the close and mutually beneficial relationship between the United States and these island nations codified in the Compacts of Free Association.
The request includes approximately $33 million for Compact Impact grants to American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Hawaii. These grants help defray costs incurred by those U.S. jurisdictions as a result of increased demands on health, educational, social or public safety services due to migration from the Freely Associated States, whose citizens are permitted under the Compact to enter the United States to live, work, and attend schools.
The President’s FY 2017 budget request of $13.4 billion for the Department of the Interior reflects his commitment to conserve vital national landscapes across the Nation, promote the responsible development of energy and mineral resources on public lands, honor our special commitments to affiliated island communities, and meet Federal trust responsibilities to Native Americans. The Budget in Brief is online: www.doi.gov/budget and www.doi.gov/budget/2017/Hilites/toc.html.
The Department of the Interior is responsible for coordinating federal policy with respect to the territories of American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and administering and overseeing U.S. federal assistance provided to the Freely Associated States of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau under the Compacts of Free Association. The Office of
Insular Affairs’ mission is to foster economic opportunities, promote government efficiency, and improve the quality of life for the people of the insular areas.