This Week at Interior June 30, 2023


Aloha, my name is Rhonda Loh and welcome to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. And I’m Ken Hon, scientist in charge of the U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, 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 were in Hawaiʻi this week to highlight how President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is helping to protect iconic Hawaiian bird species, strengthen the Native Hawaiian Community, and invest in the science and infrastructure that support our public lands and waters. Among her stops: 

*The Secretary visited with staff from Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge and toured Keauhou Bird Conservation Center following her announcement that Interior has committed nearly $16 million to prevent the imminent extinction of Hawaiian Forest Birds, part of $2 billion in investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act to restore lands and waters and advance climate resilience.

*She met with members of the Native Hawaiian Community to discuss the intergenerational impacts of assimilationist policies, including federal Indian boarding schools, and highlighted Interior's commitment to working with Indigenous communities to protect our lands and waters and revitalize Native languages. 

*And Secretary Haaland, Senator Brian Schatz and U.S. Geological Survey Director David Applegate took part in a ground blessing ceremony in Hilo for a new facility that will house two USGS science centers: the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and the Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center. 

The Bureau of Land Management held an auction for utility-scale solar energy development in Nevada this week, resulting in a record-breaking $105.15 million in high bids. The auction of four parcels across nearly 24,000 acres in the Amargosa Desert could support close to 3 gigawatts of renewable energy to the electrical grid. It's the highest-yielding onshore renewable energy auction in the bureau’s history. 

Interior is celebrating the groundbreaking of the TransWest Express Transmission Project. That's a new high-voltage interregional transmission line that will extend from south-central Wyoming through northwestern Colorado and central Utah, ending in southern Nevada. The transmission line will add more than 1,000 jobs during construction and, once complete, will provide 3,000 megawatts of new transmission capacity. 

The Bureau of Indian Education has awarded an additional five-year contract to increase access for behavioral health and wellness support to all students and staff at Bureau-funded schools and programs. The program was initially designed to increase access to services during the COVID-19 pandemic. It provides virtual counseling and on-site crisis services at all Bureau-funded schools and programs with Indigenous focused, evidence-based and trauma-informed behavioral health and wellness support. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week announced it's expanding hunting opportunities on approximately 3,000 acres in three National Wildlife Refuges: Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge in Alabama, Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge in Florida and Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Minnesota. The Fish and Wildlife Service is also proposing a phase-out of lead ammunition and tackle at eight national wildlife refuges because of adverse effects on human and wildlife health. 

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management this week proposed an update to 20-year-old regulations to protect American taxpayers from the costs of decommissioning offshore wells and infrastructure. If approved, they will ensure that energy companies are financially prepared to take on their responsibilities while protecting the taxpayer from incurring the associated costs. 

Interior welcomed more than 200 small businesses to the Denver Federal Center last week for an Industry Day. That's an event that supports Interior’s priorities by growing and diversifying the Department's small business vendor base. The Industry Day was designed to promote the Administration’s historic investments through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act. 

And our social media Picture of the Week, the dazzling synchronous fireflies of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. These fireflies are one of at least 19 firefly species that live in the park, and one of only a few species in the world known to synchronize their flash patterns. 

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That's This Week at Interior. 

This Week: Secretary Haaland travels to Hawai'i to highlight President Biden’s Investing in America agenda; the Bureau of Land Management marks the highest-yielding onshore renewable energy auction in its history; Interior celebrates the groundbreaking of a new power transmission line that stretches from Wyoming to Nevada; the Bureau of Indian Education awards an additional contract to increase access for behavioral health and wellness support to all students and staff; expanded hunting opportunities are coming to National Wildlife refuges in Alabama, Florida and Minnesota from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; a new proposed rule from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will protect taxpayers from the costs of decommissioning offshore wells; Interior welcomes more than 200 small businesses to an Industry Day in Denver; and fireflies light up the night in our social media Picture of the Week!