This Week at Interior February 10, 2023


This Week at Interior 

President Biden delivered his State of the Union address this week. The President highlighted administration accomplishments in his first two years, including passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act. 

Folks, already we’ve funded over 20,000 projects, including major airports from Boston to Atlanta to Portland — projects that are going to put thousands of people to work rebuilding our highways, our bridges, our railroads, our tunnels, ports, airports, clean water, high-speed Internet all across America — urban, rural, Tribal. And, folks, we’re just getting started.  We’re just getting started.  (Applause.) 

Secretary Haaland and Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs Carmen Cantor this week welcomed the Governors and Delegates of American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands to the annual Interagency Group on Insular Areas. This year's meeting comes as the Biden-Harris administration announced new efforts to reduce the financial burden on those U.S. territories, while providing once-in-a-generation climate and infrastructure resources through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act. 

Secretary Haaland traveled to Pennsylvania this week to highlight how the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is making historic investments to cap orphaned oil and gas wells and revitalize economies. Interior is investing a historic $4.7 billion to plug orphaned oil and gas wells across the country. 

Interior this week announced more than $24.6 million to create good-paying union jobs and catalyze economic opportunity by reclaiming abandoned mine lands in Indiana. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law allocates $11.3 billion in abandoned mine land funding over 15 years, facilitated by the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing a new rule to strengthen voluntary conservation opportunities under the Endangered Species Act, or ESA. The proposed rule would promote species conservation through voluntary agreements and make the process clearer, easier and more efficient. The announcement comes as the Endangered Species Act turns 50 years old in 2023. 

The U.S. Geological Survey this week announced an $830,000 investment from the Infrastructure Law to conduct the first-ever high-resolution airborne magnetic and radiometric surveys over Puerto Rico and its surrounding waters. The data will allow scientists to better understand the geology of Puerto Rico, including the potential for seismic hazards. 

As Interior honors Black History Month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Fort Valley State University. Fort Valley State joins New Mexico State University and the University of Texas-San Antonio in a consortium that collaborates with the Service to recruit college students from diverse backgrounds into its workforce. Fort Valley State is the first Historically Black College/University to join the consortium. 

The Bureau of Land Management this week announced the start of construction of the Desert Quartzite solar project near Blythe in eastern Riverside County, California. The project will support 900 union construction jobs and produce enough solar energy to power 120,000 homes. 

And with our social media Picture of the Week we're wishing a Happy Birthday to the Fish and Wildlife Service! It was this week in 1940 that Interior consolidated the Bureau of Fisheries and the Bureau of Biological Survey into one agency, calling it the Fish and Wildlife Service. With roots tracing back as far as 1871, the Service’s programs are some of the oldest efforts dedicated to natural resource and species conservation. 

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This Week: President Biden highlights his administration's accomplishments in his State of the Union address; Interior leaders welcome Governors and Delegates from U.S. island territories to the Interagency Group on Insular Areas; Secretary Haaland travels to Pennsylvania to highlight historic investments to cap orphaned oil and gas wells; Interior announces over $24.6 million to reclaim abandoned mine lands in Indiana; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes a new rule to strengthen conservation under the Endangered Species Act; the U.S. Geological Survey will map Puerto Rico to better understand geologic hazards; construction gets underway at the Desert Quartzite solar project in California; and we're wishing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service a happy birthday with our social media Picture of the Week!