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Senate Committee to hold hearing on proposed DOI Budget

(Feb 3, 2010) - President Obama’s proposed $12.2 billion budget for the Department of the Interior will boost funding for several programs which are priorities to Chairman Bingaman, including the Land and Water Conservation Fund, adaptation of public lands to climate change and renewable energy projects on Federal lands and waters.  Royalty reforms and new fees on oil and gas companies are proposed to offset increased costs for the conventional energy programs and to ensure a favorable return to American U.S. taxpayers.
Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) strongly supports the increases proposed for Department of the Interior’s (DOI) programs in the President’s Budget Request for FY 2011, which are being proposed against a backdrop of overall budgetary stringency for Federal programs.  Bingaman is chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, which has principal responsibility for the Interior Department.

Bingaman will call the Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, to testify on DOI’s budget before the Committee next Wednesday, Feb. 10, at 9:30 a.m. in Room 366 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.  This will be the DOI’s first budget hearing before Congress this year.
“The Administration’s priorities under this budget request include boosting funding to acquire land for conservation, promoting renewable energy projects and expanding climate change research and adaptation activities,” Bingaman noted.  “Overall, the Administration had some really tough choices to make, but I think they’ve done a fine job of prioritizing the projects which will encourage job creation and stimulate local economies.”
The President’s budget request for DOI is expected to drop only slightly, from $12.15 billion in 2010 to $12.04 billion next year.  Three noteworthy highlights:
  • A 29 percent increase, or an additional $140 million, for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.  The program is the primary vehicle for Federal and State governments to acquire park and recreation lands.
  • Establishment of Climate Science Centers to focus on the impact of climate change on DOI resources -- including wildlife -- with an increase of $130 million ($40 million to be shared with states for wildlife adaptation).
  • Increases funding, to $65.4 million, for the National Landscape Conservation System, a program established by law in last year’s Omnibus Public Land Management Act, which protects over 27 million acres of treasured landscapes managed by the Bureau of Land Management.
  • Continues the Youth in Natural Resources initiative.  DOI’s goal is a 50 percent increase in employment of young Americans in conservation activities.  The budget includes an additional $9.3 million for programs at the national parks and other public lands.
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