This Week at Interior August 6, 2021


This Week at Interior  

Defeating the pandemic, battling climate change, and restoring the nation's infrastructure are all key provisions of the Biden-Harris administration's build back better agenda. In an op-ed this week in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Secretary Haaland pointed to her recent visit to Pennsylvania's coal country where she saw first-hand how hard-working coal communities help power our country, but face significant challenges in restoring their community environments and retooling for a sustainable clean energy future. She said commonsense policies like those outlined in the President’s bipartisan infrastructure deal will help revitalize these local economies and support reclamation jobs, all while addressing environmental impacts from legacy coal mining. 

Interior this week announced that the Bureau of Land Management is moving forward with a fresh environmental review of oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. That follows a June Secretarial order that identified deficiencies in an earlier review of the Alaska refuge. That BLM review will begin with a 60-day public scoping period. 

The Bureau of Reclamation launched a new web portal this week which provides real-time drought-related information, and details of drought actions taken in collaboration with stakeholders and partners. 2021 has been a record-breaking and difficult year when it comes to western watersheds. The science-based web portal is designed to increase understanding of drought conditions and the whole of government efforts to mitigate those conditions by the Biden-Harris administration. 

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland and Bureau of Indian Education Director Tony Dearman took part this week in the grand opening of the Laguna Elementary School in New Mexico. More than $26 million was invested in the new state-of-the-art school facility, including funding from the American Rescue Plan. 

This week marked the first anniversary of the signing of the Great American Outdoors Act, and the designation of August 4th as Great American Outdoors Day. The law, which passed with strong bipartisan support, makes unprecedented investments in national parks, public lands and American Indian schools. To support Interior’s commitment to ensuring equitable access to public lands, entrance fees will be waived annually on Great American Outdoors Day at all fee-collecting public lands managed by the Department.  

And our social media Picture of the Week comes to us from Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge Complex, where this bald eagle is managing to look absolutely majestic and totally terrifying at the same time. Our national emblem since 1782, the bald eagle can be found in 49 out of 50 states, with most living in Alaska. As we see here it's partial to fish...the bald eagle also builds the largest nest of any North American bird. A fully grown adult might only weigh 14 pounds or so, but its wingspan exceeds seven feet...and those talons speak for themselves.  

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That’s This Week, at Interior. 

This Week: Secretary Haaland promotes the Biden-Harris administration's "build back better" agenda in a new op-ed; Interior announces a fresh environmental review of oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; a new web portal provides real-time information on the record-breaking western drought; it's the grand opening of a new state-of-the-art elementary school in Laguna Pueblo; we mark the first anniversary of the signing of the Great American Outdoors Act; and a bald eagle takes aim at dinner in our social media Picture of the Week!