Department of the Interior

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Office of the Secretary
February 6, 2006
Contact: Frank Quimby

Budget Emphasizes Core Commitments, Strategic Priorities and Fiscal Prudence

WASHINGTON - President Bush's proposed 2007 budget of $10.5 billion for the Department of the Interior maintains and improves performance across the Department's strategic goals to achieve healthy lands and water, thriving communities and dynamic economies throughout the Nation.

The 2007 budget, which reflects fiscal restraint and the President's commitment to cut the deficit by more than half by 2009, is a reduction of $332 million or 2.9 percent below the 2006 funding level.

"This budget underscores Interior's strategic missions and improves performance in high priority Administration initiatives," Interior Secretary Gale Norton said at a briefing at the Main Interior Building. "Within the context of the President's plan to reduce the deficit, this budget will enable Interior to fulfill its key responsibilities through collaborative approaches and partnerships, facilitate energy production, and continue Indian trust reform."

Key budget goals for 2007 include:

$467.5 million for Interior's energy programs, an increase of $43.5 million to enhance America's energy supply through responsible energy development;

$322 million for cooperative conservation programs, an increase of $9.7 million, to build on successful partnerships across the country and expand opportunities for conservation that will leverage federal investments;

$536.7 million to advance trust reform with a unified trust program, an increase of $30.6 million;

$32.2 million for an American Heritage and Preservation Partnership that coordinates efforts under a unified program and focuses resources on high-priority historic and cultural protection under the Preserve America umbrella; and

$14.5 million for Water 2025, an increase of $9.6 million to meet the challenge of preventing crises and conflicts over water in the West.

The 2007 budget maintains Interior's focus on working smarter and placing an accent on results. Improving the effectiveness and efficiency of programs has allowed the Department to more strategically prioritize program requirements and resource allocations, improve the alignment of skilled employees with anticipated needs, and deploy information technology and other management solutions.

As a result, the budget proposal identifies highest priority needs for essential, nondiscretionary cost increases that are needed to maintain performance, while proposing spending reductions in programs that are less central to Interior's core missions, have achieved their goals, or duplicate the activities of other agencies.

"This budget presents a vision of cooperation, balance, and management excellence that will inform our decisions to ensure that the Nation has access to energy, enjoys clean and sufficient water supplies, and maintains healthy forests," said Deputy Secretary Lynn Scarlett. "Interior's 70,000 employees, 200,000 volunteers and thousands of partners work with communities across the nation. They provide services and programs that touch the lives of all Americans -- at more than 2,400 parks, refuges, and other public lands, at 184 schools and dormitories serving Indian children, and at dams, reservoirs and other facilities."

The 2007 budget request includes $9.6 billion for programs funded in the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, a decrease of $190.9 million or 1.9 percent below the 2006 enacted level (excluding hurricane funding). The request of the Bureau of Reclamation and the Central Utah Project, funded in the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act, is $1.0 billion or 4.1 percent below the 2006 funding level. This request is further reduced by a proposed rescission of $88 million in Desert Terminal Lakes.

Permanent funding that becomes available as a result of existing legislation without further action by Congress will provide an additional $5.6 billion, for a total 2007 Interior budget of $16.1 billion. The Department projects revenue collections of $17 billion in 2007, an increase of $99 million over the 2006 estimated collections of $16.9 billion.

Interior Budget Highlights

Enhancing America's Energy Supply - To enhance domestic production, the 2007 budget proposes a multi-bureau initiative to implement the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and continue progress on the President's National Energy Policy. In total, the budget includes $467.5 million for the Department's energy programs. This amount is a net increase of $43.5 million over 2006.

To meet the Bureau of Land Management's increasing workload in the Applications for Permits to Drill program, the 2007 budget proposes to spend $42.4 million, including $30 million in discretionary funding. It also includes mandatory funding from mineral leasing rentals to address the surging workload in seven BLM districts that currently handle about 70 percent of Applications for Permits to Drill. The discretionary amount includes an increase of $4.25 million for the workload in non-pilot program districts, which also is growing rapidly.

The budget also contains $37.9 million in discretionary and mandatory funding for follow-on inspection and monitoring work to ensure that increased drilling and production is conducted in an environmentally responsible way. This includes an increase of $5 million for inspection and monitoring in non-pilot districts.

An increase of $12.4 million for BLM activities on the Alaska North Slope is included in the energy initiative. The budget assumes Congress will enact legislation authorizing energy development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in 2006. The additional funds will support the required environmental analyses and other preparatory work in advance of the first ANWR lease sale in 2008.

The requested increase will also support BLM's leasing, inspection, and monitoring program in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska and BLM's participation in the North Slope Science Initiative. BLM will use a significant share of the $12.4 million increase to respond to the environmental threat posed by abandoned legacy wells and related infrastructure on the North Slope.

Deepwater areas of the Gulf of Mexico, which account for nearly 25 percent of domestic oil and gas production, are critical to energy security. To keep pace with industry interest in OCS development, the 2007 proposal includes $2.1 million in increases for the Minerals Management Service to support increased leasing activity and environmental monitoring.

The development of unconventional and renewable energy resources also is encouraged by the Energy Policy Act and the 2007 budget includes an increase of $6.5 million for MMS's new responsibilities for offshore renewable energy development. The budget also proposes $3.8 million in increases in BLM and USGS for oil shale development and a $1.9 million package of increases for gas hydrate research and development by MMS, BLM and USGS.

Cooperative Conservation - The 2007 budget includes $322.3 million for the Department's cooperative conservation programs, which work through partnerships with landowners and others to achieve conservation goals across the Nation and to benefit America's national parks, wildlife refuges, and other public lands. These programs leverage limited federal funding, typically providing a non-federal match of 50 percent or more. They provide a foundation for cooperative efforts to protect endangered and at-risk species; engage local communities, organizations, and citizens in conservation; foster innovation; and achieve conservation goals while maintaining working landscapes.

The Landowner Incentive and Private Stewardship programs are funded at a total of $33.8 million, an increase of $4.9 million from 2006. Through these programs, Interior employees work with states, Tribes, communities, and landowners themselves to provide incentives to conserve sensitive habitats, while maintaining the fabric of the local communities by continuing traditional land management practices such as farming and ranching.

Challenge cost share programs in the Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, and the Bureau of Land Management are funded at $20.3 million, an increase of $1.8 million. These cost share programs better enable the land management agencies to work together and with adjacent communities, landowners, and other citizens to achieve common conservation goals.

Within a $7.2 million increase for State and Tribal Wildlife Grants, the budget includes $5 million for a new competitive component of the program focused on innovative, collaborative, and results-based projects. Level or increased funding is proposed for the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund and the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund.

American Heritage and Preservation Partnership - The budget proposes to focus resources for historic preservation and heritage tourism programs within the National Park Service as part of a unified $32.2 million heritage and preservation partnership program under the Preserve America umbrella. Within this program, Preserve America grants are $10 million, an increase of $5 million above 2006. Funding of $7.4 million is proposed for national heritage areas, with the goal of transitioning these areas from earmarked funding to competitively awarded grants. Save America's Treasures is funded at $15 million. The combination of these programs will allow local communities to determine which strategies best suit their heritage preservation needs; apply to the most appropriate programs to conserve heritage resources and promote heritage tourism; and better and more efficiently coordinate cultural resource preservation.

Cultural Resource Protection - The 2007 proposal for BLM includes a $3 million increase in the cultural resources program to improve the protection and interpretation of unique heritage properties on BLM-managed lands, ranging from cliff dwellings to immense ground figures and rock alignments and abstract, realistic and anthropomorphic rock art renderings, abandoned military outposts, homesteads, "ghost towns", Indian and emigrant trails.

American Indian Trust Programs - The budget provides $536.7 million to continue Interior's on-going efforts to reform management of its trust management obligations to Tribes and individual Indians, to continue historical accounting efforts for trust funds, and to reduce the growing costs of maintaining a substantial number of fractionated interests of Indian lands.

Within this total, an increase of $25.4 million (more than 75 percent) would be used to acquire additional highly-fractionated (or subdivided) individual Indian land interests. To reduce the cost of managing and operating the federal purchase of fractionated lands, the Department will consult with Tribes on the future administration of this program.

Other trust increases include $6.5 million that would strengthen efforts to provide public record surveys for Indian land transactions, $3 million to continue to address the backlog of unresolved probate cases, and $2 million to provide BIA technical assistance to Tribes for Indian energy resource development. Funding for historical accounting would remain level at $56.4 million.

Strengthening Indian Self-Determination - A $19 million increase is proposed for BIA to fully fund indirect costs for contracting Tribes, for a total funding level of $151.6 million. A key factor in strengthening Indian self-determination and fostering strong and stable tribal governments is the Tribe's ability to contract or compact for BIA operated programs.

Improving Indian Education - The budget includes an increase of $2.5 million for BIA Office of Indian Education Programs to support new leadership positions and realign education offices to a more centrally coordinated organization. The budget also includes an increase of $630,000 to provide education services to students temporarily detained in the 20 BIA funded juvenile detention centers.

The budget includes $157.4 million for education construction to complete funding for the Muckleshoot Tribal School in Washington State, and fully fund the Dennehotso Boarding School in Arizona, as well as four major facilities and repair projects. The program is funded at a manageable level to allow BIA to focus on the 27 school replacement projects funded in previous years that are in design phase or under construction.

National Fish Habitat Initiative - The budget includes $3 million for the National Fish Habitat Initiative, an increase of $2 million. The funding increase will foster geographically focused, locally driven, and scientifically based partnerships that will work together to protect, restore, and enhance aquatic habitats and reverse the decline of fish and aquatic species.

Increasing Timber Products - The budget request includes a $3 million increase in the BLM Oregon and California Forest Management program to support the commitments of the settlement agreement in the lawsuit American Forest Resource Council v. Clarke. The increase will result in an additional 20 million board feet of timber offered in 2008 and 2009.

Landsat Data Continuity Mission - The budget requests an increase of $16 million for USGS to finish designing and begin building a ground system to acquire, process, archive, and distribute data from the new Landsat 8 satellite to be launched in 2010. USGS will also be responsible for the satellite's operation. The data are important for scientific, land management, and commercial activities, including wildland fire management, detecting and monitoring invasive plant species in remote regions, assessing water volume in snow pack and large western aquifers, assessing the stewardship of federal grazing lands, monitoring the land use and land change in remote regions, and crop monitoring.

Multi-Hazards Pilot -The budget proposes a increase of $2.2 million for a pilot multi-hazards initiative to merge information on different hazards into integrated products to support land-use planning, hazards mitigation, and emergency response. The pilot will be funded primarily by redirecting base resources, including resources from a workforce restructure in the geology program.

Program Reductions: As part of the President's effort to reduce the deficit, the 2007 budget request eliminates $124 million in congressional earmarks and makes difficult choices to reduce or end funding for programs that are less central to Interior's core missions, have ambiguous goals, duplicate activities of other agencies or require reduced funding because key goals have been met.

The budget proposes $198 million for Payments in Lieu of Taxes, a reduction of $34.5 million from the record high 2006 payment level. These payments go to local governments in lieu of tax payments for federal lands in their boundaries. They supplement other federal land receipts shared with local governments.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund State Grants would be reduced by $27.9 million from the 2006 level. Paying for improvements to state and local parks is a decision better left to state and local taxpayers. The budget would continue the administrative part of the program at $1.6 million to review the accountability and performance of grants provided in previous years.

The USGS Minerals Resources Program would be reduced by $22.9 million but the budget continues funding for minerals surveys and studies that are relevant to ongoing federal energy, land management, regulatory, and remediation activities. Funding is reduced for studies and information gathering for regional and local activities that are more oriented to the interests of states, local governments, and universities.

The Johnson-O'Malley grant program for American Indian students attending public schools would have its $16.5 million funding eliminated. JOM grants duplicate similar funding made available by other federal and state assistance programs. The Department of Education, for example, provided $115.9 million in 2006 to public schools on or near Indian reservations.

Interior wildland fire agencies will continue efforts begun in 2006 to use $1.9 million in preparedness funding to provide training and personal equipment to local firefighters to help build a ready reserve of local firefighters who can support initial and extended attack on large fires and thereby improve the effectiveness of federal cooperation with local firefighting agencies.

Rural fire assistance funding ($9.9 million) is proposed for elimination as a separate funding source in anticipation that the types of equipment and basic training needs it provides to local fire departments will be met through the much larger USDA Forest Service and Department of Homeland Security fire assistance programs. Interior updated an agreement with Homeland Security that will ensure a greater role for the wildland fire agencies in reviewing and issuing grants to states through DHS programs.

More detailed information is in the FY 2007 Interior Budget in Brief which is available online at: