Democratic News

President Obama’s proposed $12.2 billion budget for the Department of the Interior will continue or increase critical funding for several programs that are priorities to Chairman Bingaman, including the Land and Water Conservation Fund, engaging youth in the outdoors, Indian water rights settlements and reforms to the nation’s onshore and offshore oil and gas programs.
  
BINGAMAN: DOI Budget Boosts Funding for Important Public Lands Programs,
Safe Offshore Oil and Gas Production, Renewable Energy Projects
 
Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) strongly supports the proposed funding levels for the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) programs in the President’s Budget Request for FY 2012, which are being proposed against a backdrop of substantial deficit reduction government-wide in the same budget request.
 
Bingaman is chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, which has principal responsibility for the DOI.  Secretary Ken Salazar will testify on the DOI’s budget before the Committee on Wednesday, March 2, at 10:00 a.m. in Room 366 of the Dirksen 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, increasing resources to ensure the safety of offshore oil and gas production, and expanding research and adaptation activities,” Bingaman said.  “While I’m disappointed that some important projects were left out, overall, the Administration did a good job with the tough choices they had to make.”  (For example, the chairman is interested in learning more about proposed changes to the coal Abandoned Mine Land Program and potential impacts on states and tribes.)
 
The President’s budget request for the DOI is essentially flat as compared with the 2010 and 2011 levels at $12.2 billion.  Within that constraint, the budget makes some hard choices that allow for increased funding in some key areas.    Five noteworthy highlights:
 
--Includes $358.4 million for the Bureau of Ocean Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE). This provides an increase over 2011 levels to continue the urgently needed reform of the regulatory system for offshore oil and gas production.  A system that is safe, environmentally sound and predictable is essential to the well-being of both the industry and the American public.
 
--Increases funding by $26.7 million to implement the recently authorized Indian Water Rights Settlements and $24.8 million in funding for the Navajo-Gallup Project.  Those requests recognize the Administration’s ongoing obligations to fund the authorized settlements.
 
--Under the Administration’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative, the budget proposes a significant increase in funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.  The program is the primary vehicle for Federal and State governments to protect natural resources and landscapes, and provide outdoor recreation opportunities.
 
--Continues the Youth in the Great Outdoors Initiative.  The initiative seeks to engage young people from all backgrounds in the outdoors through employment and education opportunities.  The budget includes $46.8 million, an increase of $7.6 million, or 19%, for youth programs at the national parks and other public lands.
 
--Includes $72.9 million for renewable energy development on public lands and offshore, an increase of $13.9 million, or 24%.  The Administration’s goal is to permit at least 10,000 megawatts of renewable energy on public lands by the end of 2012.
 
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