This Week at Interior February 24, 2023


This Week at Interior 

Secretary Haaland visited New Zealand this week, where she highlighted the United States’ role as a Pacific nation, and the importance of honoring Indigenous communities. The Secretary took part in several meetings with Ministers and Members of Parliament, site visits and tours. The visit came as New Zealand continues to recover from the devastating impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle, and underscored why international collaboration is critical in the face of a changing climate that is bringing increasingly extreme weather events. 

Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Shannon Estenoz this week visited North and South Carolina. She highlighted $4.5 million in new investments from the National Park Service to preserve the history of equal rights and help tell a more complete story of America. She also highlighted investments made by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Program that are working to restore America’s lands and waters and expand access to the outdoors.  

The Departments of the Interior, Energy, Commerce, and Transportation this week hosted a two-day virtual Floating Offshore Wind Shot Summit. The meeting convened a broad range of leaders to advance the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of reducing the costs of floating offshore wind energy by over 70% by 2035. Late last year, Interior held its first-ever West Coast wind sale, where floating offshore wind technology will unlock a potential 4.6 gigawatts in the Pacific and create good-paying jobs. 

With two-thirds of the nation’s offshore wind resources in deep waters, floating wind can help us reach areas we once thought unattainable – and not just in the Pacific. In fact, the Gulf of Maine is another promising location. And we’re working with Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire to bring offshore wind energy to the entire region. 

As that summit took place, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced it's proposing the first-ever offshore wind lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico. The proposed sale includes acres offshore Lake Charles, Louisiana, and Galveston, Texas that have the potential to power almost 1.3 million homes with clean energy.  

The Bureau of Land Management this week released the final environmental impact statement and resource management plan amendment for the SunZia Southwest Transmission Project. If approved, this project will allow for the transport of up to 4,500 megawatts of electricity from central New Mexico to markets in Arizona and California. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week announced the California spotted owl is comprised of two geographically and genetically distinct population segments. After a 12-month study, the Service is recommending that the Southern California spotted owl be listed as "endangered" under the Endangered Species Act – or ESA - and the Sierra Nevada spotted owl be listed as "threatened." Both owls are native to densely-forested habitat that's been severely affected by climate change. The announcement comes as the Department honors 50 years of implementation of the ESA this year. 

A new immersive museum at the Lincoln Memorial is on the way in Washington D.C. The National Park Service this week announced it has awarded a $69 million contract for 15,000 square feet of exhibit space in the memorial's undercroft. That's the space beneath the memorial. Slated for completion in 2026, the new museum will highlight the history of the memorial's construction and the role it has played as one of nation’s foremost backdrops for the civil rights movement. 

And our social media Picture of the Week, shades of green and gold at the Bureau of Land Management's Point Arena-Stornetta Unit. Situated along the rugged California coastline and part of the California Coastal National Monument, the Unit is a unique and spectacular area that offers stunning views of coastal bluffs, sea arches, sandy beaches and dunes. Make sure you follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. That's This Week at Interior 

This Week: Secretary Haaland spotlights international collaboration and celebrates Indigenous communities during her visit to New Zealand; Assistant Secretary Estenoz highlights administration and partner investments in the Carolinas; the Biden-Harris administration convenes a floating wind energy summit; BOEM proposes the first-ever offshore wind lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico; BLM announces next stage for a proposed southwest power transmission line; USFWS proposes more protection for spotted owls in California; a new immersive museum at the Lincoln Memorial is on the way in Washington D.C.; and we'll take you to the Golden State for our social media Picture of the Week!