This Week at Interior January 19, 2024


This Week at Interior

Secretary Haaland wrapped up a multi-day trip through Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama this week, where she met with several Tribes to highlight how historic resources from the Biden-Harris administration are supporting Indigenous communities. In Louisiana she visited the Chitimacha Tribe, Coushatta Tribe, Tunica-Biloxi Tribe, and Jena Band of Choctaw Indians, hearing firsthand from Tribal members about ongoing work to invest in community infrastructure and the impact of Administration funding. In Mississippi she was joined by Bureau of Indian Education Director Tony Dearman for a visit with the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, touring the site of the Tribe’s new Choctaw Central Middle and High School campus. And in Alabama the Secretary met with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, and discussed how the Investing in America agenda is helping fund the Tribe’s infrastructure projects.  

Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Shannon Estenoz and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management, and Budget Joan Mooney joined the Secretary in Birmingham, Alabama to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on what would have been his 95th birthday. They joined leaders at the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument, which preserves and interprets the events, stories and places associated with the nonviolent struggle against racial segregation during the mid-20th century.

Acting Deputy Secretary Laura Daniel-Davis and Bureau of Land Management Director Tracy Stone-Manning this week announced a proposed updated roadmap for solar energy development across the West, designed to expand solar production in more Western states and make renewable energy siting and permitting on America’s public lands more efficient. (READ RIGHT THROUGH TO NEXT WITH NO PAUSE)

The BLM also announced the next steps on several renewable projects in Arizona, California and Nevada, representing more than 1,700 megawatts of potential solar generation and 1,300 megawatts of potential battery storage capacity. The updated roadmap for solar development will help meet President Biden’s goals for a net-zero electric grid by 2035. The Biden-Harris administration has so far permitted enough wind, solar and geothermal energy on public lands to power more than 3.5 million homes.

The Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are teaming up to help restore Chinook salmon and steelhead trout habitat. This week they announced up to $40 million in grants for projects in California's Central Valley that will create or modify existing habitat for spawning and rearing young.

The U.S. Geological Survey this week revealed its latest National Seismic Hazard Model. The new model shows that nearly 75 percent of the United States could experience damaging earthquake shaking, based on insights from seismic studies, historical geologic data, and the latest data-collection technologies. The updated model offers critical insights for architects, engineers and policymakers on how structures are planned and built across the country.

The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement announced nearly $9.7 million to create good-paying jobs and catalyze economic opportunity by reclaiming abandoned mine lands in Wyoming. Millions of Americans nationwide live less than a mile from an abandoned coal mine. The President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law allocates $11.3 billion in abandoned mine land funding over 15 years.  

The Office of Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs announced the selection of two new Tribes for the Tiwahe Program Social Services Demonstration Project. The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe in Minnesota and the Oglala Sioux Tribe in South Dakota will join eight locations that currently have programs. "Tiwahe" is a Lakota language word that means "family" -- the Tiwahe program increases access to family and social services.

And our social media Picture of the Week, the Racetrack at California's Death Valley National Park. The dry lakebed is best known for its strange moving rocks, helped along by a rare combination of ice and wind. We're not talking pebbles, either...some of those rocks weigh up to 700 pounds and have traveled over 1,500 feet.

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That's This Week at Interior! 

This Week: Secretary Haaland wraps up a visit to Tribal communities in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama; Interior leaders salute the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; Acting Deputy Secretary Daniel-Davis and BLM announce a new roadmap for solar energy development across the West; there's $40 million in funding available for fish habitat restoration in California; USGS reveals its newest earthquake hazard map for the United States; OSMRE announces $9.7 million to reclaim abandoned coal mines in Wyoming; two new Tribes are joining BIA’s social services program; and strange things are happening in our social media Picture of the Week!