From Senate Interior Appropriations Committee

June 26, 2009


On Thursday, June 25, 2009, the House convened to consider HR 2996, the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriation Bill. The House proceeded with one hour of general debate on H Res 578, the Rule providing for consideration of the Interior Bill (HR 2996). The Rule was adopted by a vote of 238-184.

The House reconvened in the Committee of the Whole House 9 pm for consideration of the bill and amendments. The House proceeded with one hour of general debate, followed by amendments.

On Thursday, June 18, 2009, the House Appropriations Committee reported out the 2010 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill. It remained consistent with the Subcommittee version with the following amendments:

A manager’s amendment comprised of the following:

Highlights of the Committee Mark for Interior:

At $11 billion, the House Subcommittee mark is essentially level with the President’s request (-$7 million). This is $897 million or nearly 9 percent above the 2009 level based on the scoring the committee uses.

Creating a New Energy Frontier. The House funds the budget request of $50.1 million for the New Energy Frontier Initiative including $24 million in MMS for the offshore program and $16 million in BLM to fund the renewable energy offices. Report language asks for a plan within 120 days of enactment that describes the evaluation and approval process for renewable energy development on Federal lands.

Climate Impacts. The House funds the budget request of $133.0 million. Report language indicates that the Committee is encouraged by early steps to coordinate climate change activities, reiterates the request in the 2008 bill to develop a national strategy, and asks for recommendations for implementation of landscapescale approaches and consolidated service within 180 days of enactment of the appropriations bill.

Treasured Landscapes. The House reduces the request for NPS Operations by $5 million, resulting in a net increase of $129 million over 2009 levels. The Committee adds $10 million for Save America’s Treasures, $3 million for Preserve America, $2 million for statutory aid. The Committee funds the $25 million request for Park Partnerships. The Committee provides additional funds over the budget including $2 million for the BLM National Landscape Conservation System and $20 million to the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Youth. The House funds the $21.5 million increase requested for Interior’s youth programs and $1 million for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. They do not fund the increase of $28 million for State grants for sport fishing and hunting.

Empowering Indian Communities. The House funds the $102 million for increases in BIA law enforcement and BIE education. The Committee provides additional funding over the budget including $6.3 million for contract support, $14 million for rights protection and fish and wildlife, $4 million for BIE student transportation and post-secondary programs, and $1 million for community development.

Land Acquisition. The House mark provides $119 million for land acquisition, $9 million more than the request amount. LWCF State grants are funded at the request level of $30 million. The Committee adopts an amendment that increased funding for civil war battlefields by $5 million to $9 million. The report includes language requiring DOI to define national strategies and goals for acquiring land and report to the Committee on progress within 120 days of enactment. There is language that directs the Department to evaluate the land exchange and appraisal processes for improvements.

Wildland Fire. The House Committee reduces the fire contingency fund from $75 million to $50 million but increased funding for fire preparedness and hazardous fuels reduction by $33 million.

Wild Horse and Burro. The Committee provides $20 million of the $27 million increase requested for the wild horse and burro program.

Grazing. The House mark provides $1 million to reduce the backlog in grazing permits to be targeted to those areas where litigation is causing significant delays and directs BLM to evaluate how to address the backlog of grazing permit renewals.

Insular Affairs. The House increases the budget for Insular Affairs an additional $2.9 million above the request, resulting in an increase of $5.3 million over 2009.

Great Lakes Initiative (EPA). The Committee fully funds the $475 million initiative in EPA’s budget that includes $85.9 million for FWS, USGS, NPS and BIA.

Net Receipts Sharing. The Committee continues a provision in the 2009 enacted bill that deducts two percent of State royalties to help cover Federal administrative costs. This provides a $49 million offsetting reduction to the bill. This provision was not proposed in the President’s Budget.

NPS Recreation Fees. The House mark includes report language regarding NPS obligation of recreation fees. The report directs NPS to reduce the allocation of revenues to the largest collecting parks from 80% to 60% and provide the difference to priority projects ready for obligation at other parks. The report indicates that if no significant progress is shown, “the Committee will take further steps.”

Fee on Non-Producing Wells. The Committee does not impose a new $4/acre fee on “non-producing wells” in the Gulf of Mexico.

Fixed Costs/Other. The House mark fully funds $164 million in fixed cost increases and the full request for the Office of the Secretary, the Solicitor, the Inspector General, and the Financial and Business System project.

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