|"Many of our initiatives look to the future of this Nation, Kempthorne said at a budget press conference on Monday, securing for our children and grandchildren healthy lands and waters, opportunities to connect with Nature and the foundations of continued economic prosperity."
WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Bush’s $10.7 billion budget for the Department of the Interior in FY2009 maintains high levels of support for conservation and natural resource stewardship programs, advances national park, healthy lands, safe Indian community, and Indian education initiatives launched last year and proposes new strategic investments to address emerging environmental and resource management challenges.
“The Department is at the forefront of major issues facing the American people,” Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne said in announcing the budget today. “Many of our initiatives look to the future of this Nation – securing for our children and grandchildren healthy lands and waters, opportunities to connect with Nature and the foundations of continued economic prosperity.”
“Like all federal agencies, we face tight budget times,” Kempthorne noted. “I am gratified that the President supported our priorities. With our budget, I am pleased that our land management bureaus would receive a 4 percent increase in their operating budgets, which are the foundation of our conservation and stewardship activities.”
In addition to building on initiatives launched in 2008, such as the National Park Service Centennial, Healthy Lands, Safe Indian Communities, and Indian Education initiatives, the FY 2009 budget proposes investments that focus on assuring water supplies, protecting ocean resources, reversing the decline in wild bird populations, and strengthening Southwest border safety and environmental protections on public lands.
Under the Water for America Initiative, the President is proposing $21.3 million in Interior’s FY 2009 budget to help communities meet increasing demands on limited water supplies. “We are seeing prolonged droughts and water supply conflicts in areas of the country, such as the Southeast, where people are used to having unlimited water,” Kempthorne said. “The High Plains Aquifer and other subsurface waters are diminishing. The West faces chronic drought.”
Interior partnerships with state, local and tribal governments will share new technologies in water planning and management to help these communities respond to their changing water needs. The initiative also would carry out measures to protect endangered species at high-risk watersheds in 12 states; carry out the first national water census in 30 years; modernize stream gages; and plan for the nation’s future water use in partnership with state and local governments.
The Bureau of Reclamation’s funding would include $15 million for challenge grants to support partnerships with urban, rural and agricultural water users to stretch existing water supplies. The U.S. Geological Survey will use $6.2 million of the initiative to begin work on a national water census. An additional $2 million in the National Streamflow Information Program will upgrade 350 streamgages with real-time telemetry to allow better management during floods and droughts, and to reinstate 50 discontinued streamgages, thereby enhancing support of the water census.
The Departments new Ocean and Coastal Frontiers Initiative includes $8 million to work with state, regional and international partners to clean up marine debris, conserve coral reefs, improve ocean science, and map vital areas of the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf. The initiative contributes toward the implementation of the President’s Ocean Action Plan.
“Coastlines and deep ocean areas are littered with marine debris, which kills sea animals, interferes with shipping and coastal industries and poses a threat to human health,” Kempthorne said. “We have lost 90 percent of the sea grass in parts of the Gulf Coast. Pollution and other human-caused threats are stressing coral reefs around the world. We are losing coastal wetlands that protect us from storms, purify water and serve as nurseries for marine fisheries.”
A $4 million component of the initiative would assist in mapping and defining U.S. jurisdiction of the extended Outer Continental Shelf. Many nations that border the Arctic are now staking seabed claims beyond 200 miles to secure rights to minerals and energy resources in the area. In coordination with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Geological Survey would conduct seabed mapping to ensure that the United States has the information needed to affirm its rightful claims under the Law of the Sea.
In support of the President’s Migratory Bird initiative, the Department is announcing a complementary Birds Forever Initiative. The Department’s initiative will work in partnership with states, local communities and conservation organizations to reverse the precipitous decline in wild birds, whose populations have plummeted as much as 70 percent since 1967. A joint effort of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Geological Survey, the $9 million initiative would expand and improve the health of wild bird habitat, strengthen educational outreach programs and improve scientific understanding of the dynamics of wild bird populations by focusing on 36 bird species in priority areas.
The FY 2009 budget for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sustains a $35.9 million increase in wildlife refuge funding from 2008, which will assist in the conservation of birds. Through the efforts of the refuge system, more than 200,000 acres of vital stopover habitat for migratory birds will be conserved, protected, or enhanced. The Service also would receive an $8 million increase to support targeted planning and broad-scale activities to address threats to bird species. This increase includes $4.2 million for monitoring and assessment of birds and $4 million for Migratory Bird Joint Ventures.
The U.S. Geological Survey would receive a $1 million increase to support this initiative, funding efforts to better understand large-scale drivers of migratory bird population and habitat change such as global warming, deforestation and urban development. This initiative supports monitoring efforts including the Breeding Bird Survey and other migratory bird monitoring activities.
The Southwest Border Safety initiative proposes an $8.2 million increase in the 2009 budget to aggressively confront the problem of cross-border drug smuggling operations and other illegal activities that threaten Indian communities, public land stewards and recreational visitors, as well as cause significant environmental damage. Combined with increased funding in 2008, this initiative will enable Interior to place more officers along the border, improve border communications, and remediate the environmental impacts of these illegal activities.
The Department manages more than 40 percent of lands along the Southwestern border – often remote landscapes that contain American Indian communities, sensitive wildlife habitat and endangered species. Drug cartels run violent, drug-smuggling operations across this border. There has been loss to human life, vandalized property and damaged wildlife habitat and valuable archeological sites. Last year, nearly 200,000 illegal entrants were apprehended on public lands in the Southwest, an 11-fold increase since 2001. Interior has been forced to close major public land areas along the border to visitors, and even to employees, to ensure their safety. This initiative will help remedy these problems.
Ongoing Administration Initiatives
National Park Centennial Initiative: This budget continues momentum on the President’s historic call last year for new public and private investment to strengthen and expand national park operations, staffing, services and facilities in preparation for the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016. The FY 2009 budget calls for a landmark request of $2.1 billion for park operations, an increase of $161 million over the FY 2008 enacted amount. Combined with the 2008 enacted budget, this totals a two-year increase of $282 million, or 15 percent, for park operations.
The President also proposed up to $100 million a year in mandatory federal funding over the next decade under the Centennial Challenge to provide matching funds for donations made by Americans for projects to improve our parks and provide better visitor experiences. Over 200 projects with a total investment of $370 million have already been identified as eligible for funding through the Centennial Challenge. When Congress, which supports the initiative, approves Centennial Challenge Fund legislation, these investments will benefit parks across the country.
Healthy Lands Initiative:To maintain healthy landscapes, sustain wildlife and secure energy for the nation, this initiative supports a holistic, landscape-level approach to natural resource management and restoration in key areas across eight Western states. The FY 2009 budget proposes $21.9 million for this initiative, a $14 million or 177 percent, increase over the enacted 2008 funding level. The Bureau of Land Management would receive a $10 million increase to expand its efforts. The targeted areas have experienced numerous pressures – such as population growth, energy development, wildfire, and the spread of weeds – that affect land health.
The U.S. Geological Survey, a partner in this multi-bureau initiative, would receive a $3.5 million increase to continue work in Southwest Wyoming, conducting an ecological assessment to develop a baseline of scientific information related to wildlife habitat and development activities occurring or planned. Tools, models and protocols developed will be transferred and applied to other areas.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will receive a $492,000 increase, bringing the total funding request to $2 million to support restoration of 970 acres of upland and 6 miles of riparian habitats in the Green River Basin, Wyoming. This increase, provided to the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, will assist private landowners to restore habitat on their lands.
The Safe Indian Communities and Improving Indian Education initiatives are major efforts launched in FY 2008, to protect the lives and property of Indian Country residents and improve the academic performance of students attending BIE-funded schools. Because of their rural, isolated nature and widely dispersed law enforcement components, tribal communities have been subjected to attack by organized crime and foreign drug cartels, resulting in the spread of methamphetamine and violent crime.
Our budget would sustain the full $23.7 million in funding for the Safe Indian Communities Initiative provided by Congress in 2008 and add $2.9 million, for a total of $26.6 million in 2009. This cumulative investment of $50.3 million over two years will put additional law enforcement agents on the ground in targeted communities and fund additional training for the current force. Targeted communities will be identified through a needs analysis that looks at rate of violent crime, service population and current staffing levels. The initiative also addresses related effects such as drug abuse and child neglect and abuse, and increases staffing in BIA-funded detention centers.
The Indian Education Initiative proposes to sustain increases of $24 million provided in 2008 and add another $1.4 million for 2009 for a total of $25.5 million. The initiative will help improve the academic performance of Bureau of Indian Education students by holding their schools accountable for meeting adequate yearly progress goals under the No Child Left Behind Act. In 2008, thirty one percent of BIE-funded schools are expected to achieve these goals. The request includes increases for formula funding which directly supports core education costs in BIE schools including teachers and supplies.
Conservation, Community Assistance Highlights
Cooperative Conservation: The FY 2009 budget includes $321.7 million, a $10.4 million increase over enacted 2008 levels, for programs to build on successful partnerships across the country and expand opportunities for conservation that will leverage federal investments to protect endangered and at-risk species. These programs engage local communities in conservation and resource management, restore wetlands and uplands, foster innovation and achieve conservation goals while maintaining working landscapes. The Cooperative Conservation budget has received a 43 percent increase since 2001 resulting in improvements to 5 million acres of lands and 5,000 stream miles.
Climate Change Research and Natural Resource Management: The 2009 budget includes $31.4 million for the U.S. Geological Survey’s climate change program to focus on priority climate change needs to fill critical information gaps. The 2009 request includes funding for base programs and sustains $5 million in 2008 for a comprehensive pilot program in Alaska for a monitoring network and climate change adaptation assessments. These components will provide critical monitoring information needed for predictive modeling related to our changing climate and its effects on the landscape and natural resources. This science will inform Secretary Kempthorne’s Task Force on Climate Change, which will guide Interior’s comprehensive approach to studying and modeling the impacts of climate change.
Enhancing Energy Security: The 2009 budget provides $528.1 million for energy related programs on Interior-managed lands and waters, which provide one third of the domestically produced energy in the United States. This funding is an increase of $15.1 million over the 2008 enacted level. Interior’s budget enhances energy security by supporting increased production while achieving important environmental protections, attaining energy conservation goals and expanding the use of new technologies and renewable energy sources.
Healthy Forests Initiative: The Department’s 2009 budget includes over $300 million for the Healthy Forests Initiative, including $202.8 million for the Hazardous Fuels Reduction program, a slight increase over 2008. Reducing the accumulation of hazardous fuels helps to reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire.
Refuge and Species Protection: The $2.2 billion FY 2009 budget request for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provides significant increases for bird conservation and habitat work. The budget sustains 2008 funding increases for the National Wildlife Refuge System, and supports other key Service priorities. The budget request includes $1.3 billion in discretionary funds and $946.9 million in permanent appropriations largely provided to States for fish and wildlife restoration and conservation.
The 2008 enacted budget included $434.1 million for refuges, a $35.9 million increase over the 2007 level, a record-high funding level. The 2009 budget sustains this level, which will significantly increase habitat conservation and other activities to help restore the health of wildlife found on refuges, including birds. This funding level is $133 million more than the 2001 refuge budget, a 44 percent increase. At this level in 2009, the refuge system will improve more than 200,000 acres to benefit migratory birds.
American Indian Trust Fund Improvements: The FY 2009 budget continues to improve the management of trust resources for Indian beneficiaries, requesting $181.6 million for the Office of Special Trustee for American Indians. The proposal includes an increase of $1.7 million to address the probate backlog; $880,000 for the Office of Historical Accounting to handle the workload associated with additional tribal lawsuits; and $815,000 for trust beneficiary services. A reduction of $3.3 million largely reflects the completion of some trust reform efforts and management efficiencies.
U.S. Insular Area Assistance: The 2009 budget requests $401.6 million for the Office of Insular Affairs, which includes $79.9 million in discretionary funding and $321.7 in permanent appropriations. Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands would receive $113 million in tax transfers and Freely Associated States would receive $208.7 million in mandated Compact of Free Association payments.
Water and Power for Western Communities: The 2009 budget for Bureau of Reclamation and the Central Utah Project, funded in the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act, is $961.3 million, which is $189.6 million, or 16 percent below the level enacted for 2008. Reclamation, the largest supplier of water in 17 western states, develops, manages and protects water and related resources in an environmentally and economically sound manner. The 2009 budget for Reclamation continues to effectively manage water and power infrastructure and delivery throughout the West. The 2009 budget includes an increase of $15.5 million for the Safety of Dams program, which will improve our ability to maintain the safety of water infrastructure.
Minerals Management Service: The budget calls for $307.1 million, an increase of $10.3 million above the 2008 enacted budget, to enhance U.S. energy and economic security and strengthen MMS’s ability to ensure that the public receives the maximum financial benefit from Outer Continental Shelf resources and mineral revenues. The budget requests an additional $2 million to implement recommendations for the audit and compliance program; an $8.5 million increase for environmental analyses and workforce support on the 2007 – 2012 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program; and $1.7 million to complete installation of accounting software for MMS’ interactive payment reconciliation and billing system. MMS collected $11.4 billion in federal revenue for offshore and onshore oil, natural gas and minerals in FY 2007.
Bureau of Land Management: The $1.002 billion FY 2009 request for BLM, a $5.7 million reduction from the 2008 enacted level, supports the BLM’s commitment to managing for healthy public lands in today’s fast-growing, fast-changing West and will allow the agency to address key challenges. The net BLM appropriations request is $977.4 billion, due to the cancellation of $24.7 million in some unobligated balances. The request includes a $10 million increase for implementing the Healthy Lands Initiative, which supports landscape-level restoration work in key areas across eight Western states.
Office of Surface Mining: The budget calls for $628.4 million to fund State and tribal programs permitting and regulating domestic coal production that provides more than 50 percent of the Nation’s electricity. Discretionary funding totals $149.3 million, a decrease of $21.1 million from the 2008 enacted level; and estimated mandatory appropriations of $479.1 million including $298.4 million for grants for Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation and $180.7 million for payments to the United Mine Workers of America health plans.
By the Numbers
The $10.7 billion proposal is $19 million above the President’s proposed budget for FY 2008 and $388.5 million below the FY 2008 enacted level of $11.1 billion (excluding fire supplemental funding). The budget includes an increase of $142.5 million to fund increases in all bureau and office fixed costs, including employee salaries and benefits, rental increases for existing space and associated security charges. This increase will enable the Department to cover about 86 percent of its fixed costs, with the remaining costs absorbed through cost-saving methods.
Permanent funding that becomes available as a result of existing legislation without further action by Congress will provide an additional $6 billion, for a total FY 2009 Interior budget of $16.7 billion. Including permanent funding, the 2009 budget for Interior is slightly above 2008 amounts.
In 2009, Interior will continue an exemplary record of producing revenue for the U.S. Treasury. The Department projects revenue collections of $18.2 billion in 2009, a level that exceeds Interior’s current budget request. In 2008, Interior will also collect an estimated $18.2 billion in revenues, along with $2.2 billion in royalty oil that will be provided to the Department of Energy for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve
More detailed information is in the FY2009 Interior Budget in Brief which is available online at: http://www.doi.gov/budget/2009/09Hilites/toc.html.