This Week at Interior April 1, 2022


This Week at Interior  

Secretary Haaland was in El Paso, Texas this week, meeting with local officials and community members to learn about their vision for conserving and increasing access to outdoor spaces. She highlighted the Biden-Harris administration’s America the Beautiful initiative, which supports locally-led efforts to conserve, connect, and restore lands and waters, strengthening local economies and communities’ health and well-being for current and future generations. 

The Secretary then traveled to New Mexico, where she and Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Tanya Trujillo met with Tribes from the Colorado River Basin to talk about the ongoing challenges of historic drought in the West and low-runoff conditions. Together they highlighted the $8.3 billion investment in water and drought resilience from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.   

The Biden-Harris Administration this week submitted the President’s Budget request for fiscal year 2023. The proposal looks to deliver on the agenda he laid out in his State of the Union address: to build a better America, reduce the deficit, reduce costs for families and grow the economy from the bottom up and middle out. Interior’s slice of the 2023 budget proposal totals $18.1 billion, an increase of $2.9 billion, or 19 percent, from last year. 

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management this week announced it will hold a wind energy auction for two lease areas offshore the Carolinas on May 11. The lease areas cover more than 100,000 acres in the Carolina Long Bay area that, if developed, could result in at least 1.3 gigawatts of offshore wind energy, enough to power nearly half a million homes. 

Principle Deputy Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Laura Daniel Davis and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Director Amanda Lefton outlined the Administration's ambitious offshore wind goals, and the next steps in leasing for offshore wind development this week at the Pacific Offshore Wind Summit in San Francisco. Daniel Davis said offshore wind presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build a brand-new industry that can combat climate change and create robust and sustainable economies. 

Interior this week announced the appointment of Kevin Sligh Sr. as the new Director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. Kevin will oversee BSEE’s efforts to promote safety, protect the environment, and conserve offshore resources through vigorous regulatory oversight and enforcement. 

Interior this week convened a workshop in Honolulu to discuss putting the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to work in the United States' island territories. The three-day workshop covered key infrastructure topics, including water, broadband, energy, legacy pollution, and built and natural infrastructure needs of American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement has selected Alfreda Cornfield as Employee of the Year. Alfreda is a reclamation specialist, blasting expert and senior inspector, and a resident of the Navajo Nation in Arizona. 

This week marks Cesar Chavez Day, which commemorates the birth and legacy of the civil rights and labor movement activist. Born March 31st, 1927, Chavez was an American farm worker and labor leader who co-founded the National Farm Workers Association, which is now the United Farm Workers Union. President Obama proclaimed Cesar Chavez Day a U.S. federal commemorative holiday in 2014. 

And our social media Picture of the Week, the waterworld of Florida's Dry Tortugas National Park. Despite the name, less than one percent of the park is on dry ground, and the best way to see it is by getting wet in the bright turquoise water of the Gulf of Mexico. Located 70 miles west of Key West and accessible only by boat or float plane, Dry Tortugas is home to magnificent Fort Jefferson, the third largest coral reef in the world, marine life, submerged shipwrecks and a variety of birds. 

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That's This Week at Interior.

This Week: Secretary Haaland visits the Southwest, talking about locally-led conservation in Texas, and the ongoing challenges of the historic western drought in New Mexico; the President's 2023 Budget request could spell an 19% increase for Interior; two wind lease areas offshore the Carolinas hit the auction block next month; Interior leaders outline the Administration's ambitious energy goals at the Pacific Offshore Wind Summit; the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement has a new Director; federal agencies convene in Hawai'i to talk about putting the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to work in the United States' island territories; the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement selects its Employee of the Year; the nation honors the life and legacy of Cesar Chavez; and we head to the Gulf of Mexico for our social media Picture of the Week!