Department Of Interior

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Contact: Frank Quimby
Secretary Norton Stresses Priorities, Goals and Impact of FY 2005 Budget

Statement of Gale A. Norton, Secretary of the Interior Before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on the 2005 President's Budget Request


(WASHINGTON) - Interior Secretary Gale Norton today outlined the President's $11 billion budget request for Interior, calling it the single clearest statement of how the department plans to work toward its goals in the upcoming year and emphasizing the impact Interior's actions have on the American people.

"The department's complex and multifaceted mission affects the lives of millions of citizens across the nation," Norton told members of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources in testimony on the President's proposed $11 billion budget for Interior in fiscal year 2005. "We have close connections to America's lands and people, whether American Indians and naturalists, hikers and hunters, ranchers and recreation enthusiasts, or environmentalists and entrepreneurs."

"Interior's mission becomes increasingly complex as expectations evolve, new technologies emerge and our responsibilities to the American people increase," Norton said. "How well we fulfill our mission influences whether farmers will have water and people can turn on the tap; whether our children will enjoy America's grand vistas, places, and history; whether we can hike, bird watch, canoe, or hunt and fish; and whether we can warm our homes and fuel our transportation systems."

"The budget plays a key role in advancing our vision of healthy lands, thriving communities and dynamic economies," Norton said. "Our success depends on working together across landscapes with communities. It depends on the efforts of our 70,000 employees, 200,000 volunteers and thousands of partners."

Interior's 2005 budget request for current appropriations is $11 billion, a 2.2 percent increase over the 2004 enacted level. The department anticipates collecting $10.1 billion in receipts in 2005, equivalent to 92 percent of its current appropriations request.

Major priorities in the budget, Norton noted, include fulfilling the President's commitments to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund; addressing the backlog of park repair and maintenance needs; fixing Bureau of Indian Affairs schools; and re-establishing healthy forests and rangelands. The budget also would accelerate the cleanup of abandoned coal mine lands, expand opportunities for cooperative conservation, advance trust reform, mitigate water supply problems in the West through the Water 2025 initiative and support the goals of the National Energy Plan.

Highlights of Testimony

Removing Dangerous Abandoned Mine Sites: $243.8 million for the abandoned mine lands program, including a $53 million increase. The budget proposal would use increased funds and a reauthorized Abandoned Mine Land Act to speed the cleanup of the most dangerous abandoned mine sites in the nation. The statutory allocation formula in the current law limits the ability of the Office of Surface Mining to meet its primary objective of abating the highest priority abandoned coalmines. Some states are decades away from completing work on the most critical, high-priority sites.

Indian Trust Programs: $614 million for the Unified Trust budget, a net increase of $161 million, to continue the reorganization of trust functions in the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians. The budget proposes a net increase of $7.2 million, including funding for 85 new trust-related positions at the local level. We request an additional $4 million to quicken the pace at which probate cases are resolved. The budget also proposes $75 million for Indian land consolidation, an increase of $53.3 million, to expand efforts to address the problem of fractionation, or continuing subdivision, of individual Indian interests in the land that the federal government holds in trust. $109.4 million also is requested for historical accounting, an increase of $65 million over the 2004 appropriation. The funds would provide $80 million for Individual Indian Management accounting and $29.4 million for tribal accounting.

Healthy Forests and Rangelands: As part of the $743.1 million wildland fire proposal, the budget includes $209.3 million, a $25 million increase over 2004, to conduct fuels reduction projects and to monitor the results. In combination with forest and range improvement activities funded in other Interior programs, the 2005 budget includes over $300 million to advance the goals of the Healthy Forests Restoration Act. Including funding for the Forest Service, the 2005 budget includes $760 million to meet the goals of the Act.
The request for the wildland fire program also includes $221.5 million, an increase of $28.6 million, to fund suppression activities, based on the 10-year average, and an increase of $6.5 million for preparedness to address increasing costs in aviation contracts and for the fire program analysis system.

Cooperative Conservation: Conservation today depends increasingly on partnerships across a mosaic of land ownerships. Interior cannot manage federal lands successfully unless it works with adjacent land-owners, states, tribes and communities. The nation cannot achieve its conservation goals solely by relying upon-and adding to-the federal dominion of lands. The budget proposes to spend $507.3 million, a 20 percent increase, to expand opportunities for conservation partnerships with citizens, organizations and communities. The Cooperative Conservation Initiative, which builds on existing conservation partnership programs with productive relationships with local communities and citizens, will provide $129.5 million, an increase of $25.5 million, for a suite of seven programs. The budget proposes $29.6 million for challenge cost-share activities, an increase of $8.4 million over 2004, for natural resource restoration and species protection projects on or affecting federal lands.

Full Funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund: $660.6 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund for 2005, including $153.3 million for land acquisition and $93.8 million for the state grant program. The Department's request, combined with the request for the U.S. Forest Service, brings total government wide LWCF funding to $900.2 million.

Park Maintenance Backlog: $1.1 billion for maintenance, rehabilitation and road repair to improve the condition of National Park Service facilities and resources and to help eliminate the $4.9 billion park backlog for facility maintenance and construction. The NPS budget includes $724.7 million for park facility maintenance and construction, a $25 million increase over 2004. An additional $310 million for park roads is included in the Administration's legislative proposal to reauthorize the Highway Bill. The 2005 request continues to provide critical tools to improve accountability, including an estimated facility condition index, an industry standard for quantifying the condition of facilities.

Invasive Species: $58.3 million for a multiagency effort to address invasive species challenges. Funding will be used to control invasive species such as saltcedar in the southwest and control of the brown tree snake population on Guam to prevent its establishment on other Pacific islands and the U.S. mainland. In addition, Interior agencies will focus on early detection and rapid response and conduct research to develop test methods and control strategies. The priorities for the use of invasive species funding are established by the National Invasive Species Council.

Water 2025: $21 million for Water 2025 to minimize future western water crises by fostering conservation and interagency coordination, enhancing water supplies through improved technologies and managing water resources in cooperation with others. Collaborative approaches and market-based water transfers will help address emerging needs. Federal investments in research and development will improve water treatment technologies such as desalination. A Water 2025 increase of $12.5 million for the Bureau of Reclamation will build on the 2004 Western Water Initiative, providing $20 million to retrofit and modernize existing facilities, promote conservation and more efficient use of existing water supplies, improve water management by using excess capacity at federal facilities, and for research on alternative water supplies.

Klamath Basin: $67.6 million for restoring habitat, removing fish migration barriers, acquiring land, using water banking and researching the ecology of the federally-listed fish species in the Klamath Basin. This is a $17.9 million increase over 2004 funding levels. Other government agencies will provide an additional $38 million, bringing a total of $105 million to this effort.

Payments in Lieu of Taxes: $226 million, a $1.3 million increase over the 2004 enacted level, and the highest level ever for the program, to provide payments to local governments in counties where federal lands are located within their boundaries in lieu of tax revenues and to supplement other federal land receipts shared with local governments. Local governments use payments to improve local school, water, and road systems, as well as for other necessary infrastructure.

Energy: To help meet the nation's energy needs by focusing on timely access to oil and natural gas resources on public lands, consistent with publicly developed land-use plans, the budget would maintain Bureau of Land Management oil, gas, and coal programs at the 2004 funding level of $104.4 million through a combination of appropriated funds and $4 million in additional user fees generated through a proposed rulemaking to bring fees closer to costs for certain services. This funding level preserves significant increases that were appropriated over the last few years to continue making significant progress in reducing permitting backlogs and expediting access to energy resources. The MMS budget includes an increase of $4.3 million for the Outer Continental Shelf Connect E-government initiative, the third year of a six-year project to reform and streamline offshore business operations by improving connectivity between the government and the public. The initiative will create a citizen-centered web presence and build an E-government infrastructure across agencies. Total funding for the initiative in 2005 will be $16 million.

Improving Law Enforcement and Security: $39.2 million increase over the 2004 level for law enforcement and security for employees, visitors, and facilities at the nation's parks, refuges, public lands and facilities requires law enforcement and security. Reclamation budget includes $43.2 million, an increase of $15.4 million, to continue security modifications at priority dams. To enhance security at major NPS icons, the budget includes operational increases of $2.1 million and $2 million for the U.S. Park Police, and an additional $2 million to complete security improvements at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. It includes $5.3 million in the budgets of the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management and the Departmental Office of Law Enforcement and Security to improve law enforcement efforts in border areas. The budget also requests $5.2 million for implementing an off-the-shelf reporting system for law enforcement incidents to be used by DOI agencies; $2.8 million increases in the National Park Service and Fish and Wildlife Service for law enforcement management reforms; and $7.8 million for the Bureau of Indian Affairs to operate eight new detention facilities serving Indian populations.


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