This Week at Interior February 3, 2023


My name's Ray Suazo, we're in Phoenix Arizona at the BLM-National Training Center, and you're watching This Week at Interior.

This Week at Interior  

Secretary Haaland and Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Shannon Estenoz spent several days in South Florida this week. The visit highlighted the Biden-Harris administration’s unprecedented cross-agency investments in the Everglades ecosystem, including resources for wildlife crossings, fish passage, ecosystem restoration, clean water and natural resilience. 

Interior released draft guidance to states on how to apply for $500 million in formula grant funding to clean up unsafe orphaned oil and gas wells. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides a total $4.7 billion to address orphaned oil and gas well sites. The funding will give states resources to create jobs cleaning up sites that pollute backyards, recreation areas, and community spaces across the country. 

The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement also announced nearly $30 million for Colorado, Wyoming, Missouri and North Dakota to reclaim abandoned mine lands. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law allocates $11.3 billion in abandoned mine land funding over 15 years. The funding will help communities address and eliminate dangerous environmental conditions and pollution caused by historic coal mining.        

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law also includes $2.5 billion to continue fulfilling settlements of Indian water rights claims as part of the $13 billion investment into Tribal communities. This week, Interior announced another $540 million allocation for this year. 

Scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey have determined that increasing summer temperatures and drought partly drove declines of the native western bumblebee in recent decades. A group of insecticides also contributed. The decline in pollinators is a cause for concern because most flowering plants depend on pollinators, such as the western bumblebee, to promote reproduction. 

Decades of collaborative conservation efforts between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Navy-owned San Clemente Island resulted in five species being removed from the Endangered Species List. San Clemente Island paintbrush, lotus, larkspur and bush-mallow plants and San Clemente Bell’s sparrow have fully recovered and no longer require Endangered Species Act protection. San Clemente Island is one of eight islands that comprise the Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California.  

Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland announced more than $2.5 million was awarded to 18 federally recognized American Indian Tribes and Alaska Native entities to develop Tribal energy resources. The Tribal Energy Development Capacity Grant Program develops the Tribal management, organizational, and technical capacity Tribes need to maximize the economic impact of energy resource development on Indian land. 

And our social media Picture of Week is from Blanca Wetlands in Colorado in honor of World Wetlands Day. Wetlands support people, wildlife and communities by giving us a clean source of water; acting as a nursery for fish, wildlife and plants; protecting us from powerful storms; and giving us recreational opportunities. 

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This Week: Secretary Haaland highlights the administration's investments in Everglades restoration during a trip to Florida; Interior helps empower states to apply for grant funding to clean up orphaned oil and gas wells; OSMRE announces nearly $30 million to reclaim abandoned mine lands; Interior allocates more than $500 million to fulfill Indian Water Rights settlements; a warming climate spells bad news for the western bumblebee; decades of collaborative conservation efforts on San Clemente Island removes five species off the Endangered Species List; Interior moves to empower Tribal energy resource development on Indian land; and we're honoring World Wetlands Day with our social media Picture of the Week!