HEARING OF THE SENATE ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE
CHAIRED BY: SENATOR JEFF BINGAMAN (D-NM)
WITNESS: KEN SALAZAR, TO BE SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
SEN. JEFF BINGAMAN (D-NM): The committee meets this morning to consider the nomination of our good friend and colleague Senator Ken Salazar to be the Secretary of the Interior. Senators and Representatives have been named Secretary of the Interior before. I believe that this is the first time that a member of our committee, the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, has been appointed as secretary of Interior.
In my view President-elect Obama could not have chosen a better nominee. As a Westerner who's farmed and ranched, who's practices water law, who's served in state government and before coming to the Senate -- clearly Senator Salazar understands the West and the special needs of the public land states. He's played an active role on this committee in helping to shape energy policy legislation in the last two Congresses.
He understands the need to develop our oil and gas resources, but also the importance of balancing our energy needs with land conservation, outdoor recreation and the environment. He's been a forceful advocate for clean, renewable energy technologies for outdoor recreation and for our rural communities. His service on this committee will serve Senator Salazar well in his new role.
He will take with him to the department both a keen appreciation for the department's mission as the steward of our public lands and natural resources, and also a thorough understanding of the many challenges facing the department.
As a soon-to-be former senator, he will also appreciate the need to work with the committee and the Congress generally in trying to address these challenges. I'm sorry that we are losing Senator Salazar as a member of this committee and a member of the Senate, but I'm delighted by his nomination. He has my enthusiastic support and I hope that we can confirm his nomination soon in this next week. Let me defer to Senator Murkowski for her statement.
SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R-AK): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I, too, welcome my friend, my colleague back to the committee, albeit on the other side of the table, but we're pleased to have you before the Energy Committee this morning for the purposes of nomination to be Secretary of the Interior.
I appreciate the opportunity that you and I had to discuss some of the issues that will be in front of you. I think you realize what a large portfolio you will be taking on, but I know that your heart, as a person who cares for our land here in this country, will guide you.
I am glad to say that Senator Salazar has had experience on all sides of the public land debate, as a rancher and as both Colorado's Attorney General and head of the Department of Natural Resources. Senator Salazar, of course, had the federal side covered through his service as a very distinguished member of this committee for these past four years. If confirmed, as I certainly expect that you will be, Senator Salazar, you will lead an agency of 73,000 people with broad responsibilities for our nation's federal lands, national parks and offshore areas, our endangered species and water resources and our Indian tribes.
The Interior department, as we discussed, as it relates to Alaska, interior is the biggest landlord of public land in Alaska. With title to more than 200 million acres, is a full 60 percent of the State of Alaska. Your experience as a westerner, including your various roles in government, certainly gives you a thoughtful and a practical approach to very difficult and complex issues. But I think that your reputation as a consensus builder and a centrist, will truly serve you well.
Senator Salazar, I know that you are aware of my very intense interest of the committee and the decisions that you will be making. I look for your commitment to working closely with each of us as you consider and develop the department's natural resources priorities. I look forward to the time when Senator Begich and I are able to welcome you to the State of Alaska, hopefully with some of my colleagues here on this panel, so that you can have your eyes opened a little bit more to some of the issues that we face up north, and look forward to that time.
But at this point this morning, again, I thank you for your willingness to serve in this capacity and for the good work that you have done.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. BINGAMAN: All right. We have two of our colleagues here to introduce the nominee. We have Senator Mark Udall from Colorado and Representative John Salazar from Colorado and both of them are intimately acquainted with the nominee, and also with members of this committee. So we welcome them. And Senator Udall, who is a member of our committee, we welcome you, and please make any statements you'd like in support of the nominee, and then we'll call on Representative Salazar.
SEN. MARK UDALL (D-CO): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good morning, Mr. Chairman, ranking member Murkowski, members of the committee.
This is an exciting, and I dare say, a historic day for those of us from Colorado, and I'm just very proud to sit here with my two brothers from the great and well known Salazar family. It's been said, usually you have to have at least two Udalls to take on one Salazar, but today, we've turned the tables. But I can't tell you how exciting this is for all of us. And as the soon to be senior senator from Colorado, I'm pleased to be here today to introduce my friend (Laughter) and colleague.
Senator Ken Salazar is President-elect Obama's choice to lead the department of the Interior. For reasons I will explain shortly, I believe that this man, who is a fifth generation son of the West, whose ancestors settled Santa Fe before America gained independence, is uniquely qualified and experienced to lead the U.S. Department of the Interior. He's an outstanding public servant and he will make an outstanding Secretary of the Interior.
This committee, as Mr. Chairman, you and the ranking member pointed out, and our colleagues throughout the Senate, are well aware of Senator Salazar's excellent record of leadership. He's worked across the aisle and with diverse stakeholders on many issues, ranging from health care to national security. As a member of this committee, Ken has worked to extend critical renewable energy tax credits, protect our natural resources and encourage environmentally responsible development of domestic energy sources.
I've been proud to work with him on a wide range of issues, including protection of our public lands and water resources in Colorado.
I'm especially proud of our work together to pass legislation that allowed a lovely older woman, Betty Dick, to pass her final days in peace on land she treasured in the Rocky Mountain National Park, that's so important to us in Colorado. Ken, I think Betty would be very proud of you today.
Even before his time in the Senate, Ken has been a recognized leader in the West. As a farmer and a rancher, he's always had a close relationship with the land and with rural communities. He's spoken eloquently about what he calls the forgotten America, and he has been a steadfast champion of the land, water and people of the West. As the Executive Director of Colorado's Department of Natural Resources, Ken used his unique background and experience to protect the environment and Colorado's communities, educate youth about our natural resources and defend Colorado's water.
He helped create Great Outdoors Colorado and led it to become one of the most successful land conservation programs in the country. While serving as Colorado's Attorney General, Ken worked to make our communities safer and address gang violence. He also led efforts to preserve open space, and during his two terms as Attorney General, he was a well known champion of the natural environment. Ken will bring, without question, his rural values, hard work, honesty and integrity to the Department of Interior, and help the Department face the many challenges that are in front of it. From addressing Interior's ethical lapses, to tackling our country's lack of transmission infrastructure, Ken will work hard to put the Department of Interior back on the right track.
Mr. Chairman, as I close, I would be remiss if I did not mention Senator Salazar's family, and in particular, his mother, Emma. Like her sons, she is a remarkable Coloradan. I had the opportunity to visit her at the Salazar ranch, Los Rincones, last year. And if her son, Ken, demonstrates the same indomitable spirit, strength of character and wisdom of his mother, and I know he will, he should be an outstanding Secretary of the Interior. Thank you.
SEN. BINGAMAN: Well, thank you for your strong statement of support. Representative Salazar, you probably are in a better position to give us the real inside story on this nominee than anybody before the committee today. Please, go right ahead.
REP. JOHN T. SALAZAR (D-CO): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman and members of this distinguished committee, it is an honor and a privilege to come before you today, feelings matched only by the pride I bring to this chamber as I introduce to you President-elect Obama's nominee for Secretary of the United States Department of Interior, my brother, Senator Ken Salazar.
You're going to learn a lot about Senator Salazar today, both from himself and from others. I speak to you from a unique and blessed perspective, of one who has not only worked with the senator in the halls of Congress, but toiled with him on the land that he has always fought to manage and protect. Although it feels like yesterday, it was many years ago when my brother and I worked and played in the fields of our ranch in southern Colorado in the San Luis Valley. We didn't have electricity or television or many toys, but we found inspiration in the land that my mother and father and seven brothers and sisters worked in order to survive. It is this challenge to manage a land so that it can provide prosperity, inspiration and health that faces the incoming Secretary of Interior, and there is no one stronger, more experienced, or better suited for that task than Senator Ken Salazar.
The next Secretary of Interior is going to need to bring with them an abundance of selflessness and integrity and Colorado's senior senator has these qualities to spare. To me, he is one of the most selfless individuals that I have ever known. He champions the value of hard work, integrity and honesty that our parents taught us on the farm. He has excelled in his career, not to further his agenda, but because when doors of opportunity have opened for him, he has never slammed those doors behind him. He has always held them open for others.
We often hear the phrase "the law of the land." Senator Salazar is the embodiment of this phrase. As a former Colorado State Attorney General, and Director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, he brings a keen and precise understanding of the law and its application to administrative and public lands issues. He brings with him a steady hand, one strengthened by his time on the land, to the task of overseeing the management of our public resources with honor.
Senator Salazar is a testimony to our parents' lesson of standing up for what is right, even if you're standing alone. As he has always done, the senator will not hesitate to put the needs of the nation before the needs of himself and make those tough choices. He is a pragmatist who does not delineate by political orientation. He weighs the virtues of both sides of the issue and ultimately, makes the best decision for the greater good.
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, it is with great honor and pride, and hope for the future of the lands which define the character and the spirit of this great nation that I introduce to you U.S. Senator Ken Salazar, nominee for the Secretary of the Department of Interior.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. BINGAMAN: Well, thank you for your strong statement as well. Ken, as you are well aware, the rules of the committee that apply to all nominees require that nominees be sworn in connection with their testimony. So, if you could stand and raise your right hand, please.
Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you're about to give to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?
SEN. KEN SALAZAR (D-CO): I do.
SEN. BINGAMAN: Please be seated. Before you begin your statement, I will ask three questions that we address to each nominee before the committee. First question, will you be available to appear before the committee and other congressional committees to represent departmental positions and to respond to issues of concern to the Congress?
SEN. SALAZAR: Yes.
SEN. BINGAMAN: Second question. Are you aware of any personal holdings, investments or interests that could constitute a conflict of interest or create the appearance of such a conflict, should you be confirmed and assume the office to which you've been nominated by the president?
SEN. SALAZAR: No.
SEN. BINGAMAN: And the third question. Are you involved or do you have any assets that are held in blind trust?
SEN. SALAZAR: No.
SEN. BINGAMAN: At this point, our custom is for nominees to introduce any family members that are present. If you would like to do that, you're invited to do so.
SEN. SALAZAR: Mr. Chairman, with your permission, I would like to do that and give an opening statement ---
SEN. BINGAMAN: Why don't you go ahead with introductions and then your statement, please?
SEN. SALAZAR: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me first say, Chairman Bingaman and ranking member Murkowski, Senator Dorgan, Senator Wyden, Senator Landrieu, Senator Shaheen, Senator Udall, Senator Sanders, and to all the great members of the committee and the staff, it is an absolute honor to be before you today and I thank you for the work that we have done together for the last four years, and I very much look forward to the work that we have to do together in the future, because in a way it is a bittersweet reality that I leave the Senate, but there is also some goodness in that, in that I continue to work with the great members of this committee and the members of the U.S. Congress.
I want to thank the president-elect, Barack Obama.
I think president-elect Obama brings the kind of change and hope to America that is of the transformational kind that this country so needs, and I liken it always to the election of Abraham Lincoln or to the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, for the kinds of challenges that we face in the future are going to take a Herculean effort to resolve, and I look forward to being a part of that team to bring about that change to America.
I want to thank Congressman Salazar, my brother, John Salazar, who is the older brother, who, frankly, has been my brother and friend for more than 50 years. And to Senator Mark Udall. We are brothers, and the Udall family has made its mark on the West and we have been friends for a very long time and will continue to work on so many issues as we have over so many years in Colorado.
I want to also thank the members of my family. You know, all of our family, my family is not able to be here today. They will be here for the inauguration. But my wife, Hope, my daughters, Melinda and Andrea, my granddaughter, Mireya, all of them who are probably watching this event at home in Colorado today, are the bedrock of my life, and I will not forget them now or forever.
I want to also thank my father and mother. Many of you on this committee know the history of my father and my mother, that they are proud people, 12 generations on the soils of New Mexico and Colorado. My father, in World War II, was a soldier, a staff sergeant in the Army during that war. My mother, at the age of 19, found her way across America to come and serve this great country in what was then known as the War Department for a period of five years, and they instilled in us the values that I have brought to the U.S. Senate and to my public life.
And to them, I will be forever grateful, because they saw a dream in the future of America through their children. Though they were poor, though they did not have an opportunity to receive an education, all eight of their children became first generation college graduates, and I'm sure they could not have foreseen that someday, they would have a son who would be a U.S. Senator and a secretary designee for the Department of Interior, nor could they have seen that, sitting to his left earlier this morning, there would be a member of the United States House of Representatives. But what they could foresee was a fact that we are a humanity in progress and America is the shining star that takes us forward as a beacon of hope and opportunity, and it was that faith in the future that has me here today in front of this wonderful committee, asking for your blessing as I move forward to serve this nation as Secretary of Interior.
Let me say just a few words about the Department of Interior and what some of my priorities will be as I move forward and implement President Obama's agenda within the Department of Interior. It is a big department and I know it covers not only everything in the outer continental shelf, but one-fifth of the land mass of the United States of America. It deals with the issues of Native Americans which are many, and I will talk about those in a minute. But also deals with a whole host of other issues, from water, not only in the West, but our national monuments, historic preservation and so many things.
I want this Department to be America's department, and I think for far too long, the Department of Interior has been seen as a department only of the West, and the fact is that this Department of Interior touches not only the 50 states, but the territories, our oceans, and in fact, its footprint is global. And it is with that kind of ambition that I approach this job, knowing that we can make the difference that will help change the world in a very good way for the people of America.
My priorities as I move forward within the Department of Interior will be the following: I want to clean up the mess that exists in the Department of Interior. I do believe that Secretary Kempthorne has done some good things to try to right the ship of six years gone bad during the first six years of the Bush administration, but it is telling to me that the inspector general of the Department of Interior, in its report to Congress in 2006, basically said the following. The IG said, quote, "Simply stated, short of a crime, anything goes at the highest levels of the Department of the Interior. Ethics failures on the part of senior department officials have been routinely dismissed with a promise not to do it again."
But we know that since those words were written to Congress by the inspector general, that even crime has been something that has happened within the Department of Interior. So our first and foremost task will be to restore the integrity of the Department of Interior and to bring the highest level of ethics back to the functions of this critical department for our nation's government.
Secondly, I, in my own conversations with President-elect Obama, decided that one of the things that we want to do is to make sure that we get energy independence, that we take the moon shot to energy that we can take in the several years ahead, and that we really set America free, as so many of us who have been a part of that coalition have tried to do in our work in this committee, as well as in the U.S. Congress for the last four years. We will do it now. It is an inescapable reality. It is an imperative, and it is something that we will not let go of.
From my point of view, we need to build a house of energy independence for America, and that house of energy independence will be based on four cornerstones. First, it will be based on conservation, because we all know that that is the low-hanging fruit as we deal with our efforts to move towards energy independence.
Secondly, we will embrace the ethic of renewable energy, which this committee has helped lead on, with a new vigor and a new resolve within the Department of Interior. What that will mean is taking on issues like the sighting of solar facilities and wind farms and other kinds of renewable energy resources, including geothermal and some small hydro for already existing facilities within the lands of America, so that we can help move forward towards energy independence. We also will deal with transmission because it doesn't do any good to produce huge amounts of solar power within the San Luis Valley of the southern part of my state or within New Mexico, if we can't get the power that's generated from those solar power farms to the places where it is to be consumed.
Thirdly, technology. We know the importance of technology in this committee and how that holds so much of the key to our energy independence. I will continue to be a keystone person working on an energy team that will help us get to the energy independence with the new technology, whether it's for batteries, for hybrid electrics, or the other kinds of technologies that we have talked about so often here in this committee.
And fourth, responsible development. I know that much of the fight within the Congress over the last ten years has been about how we develop our natural resources. My own view and that of President- elect Obama is that we need to develop our resources, but we need to develop them in a thoughtful and responsible way. We can develop our oil and gas resources, but we can also make sure that we're taking care of the habitat that anglers and hunters are so endeared by and which provide so many economic benefits through much of the rural parts of America, through much of America. And so we will have a balanced approach to the development of our natural resources.
So energy will be a major issue and one on which I intend to spend a very significant amount of my time during the time that I am at the Department of Interior.
Third, I want to make sure that America's treasured landscapes are protected, preserved and enhanced, and that means a new and vigorous approach to our work with the national parks of America, our national monuments, all our public lands, our historic preservation.
I also want to take on some new initiatives with respect to the land and water conservation fund and try to move forward with the protection of lands of national significance, and to address the issues of the protection of farmlands and ranchlands across America. During my time as Director of the Department of Natural Resources and on my own time, I wrote the constitutional amendment that created Great Outdoors Colorado within my state. It avoided the conflict that often happens between condemnation on the one side for public purpose, and preservation on the other hand.
And with the program that we've created in Colorado, we now have river restoration efforts in the Yampa, the Colorado, the Platt, the Arkansas, the Cache la Poudre and so many others, and have created community separators so that places like Colorado Springs and Denver will never grow together as one chain of cities. And so we will move forward with an agenda on national parks and lands of national significance, and sites of national significance, also with a new vigor.
Fourth, the water challenges of America are important to all of us, we know especially in the arid west where we say whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting. And people fight about something when it is so scarce, but it is an issue that not only affects the west, it also affects all of America. The issues are complex, and as Chairman Bingaman and Senator Dorgan would know, and Senator Murkowski, some of these issues are issues that have gone unresolved sometimes for decades and decades and decades. We will bring the kind of expertise to the table to help resolve many of these outstanding conflicts that we have with respect to water, and also to address the water supply issues of our communities.
For far too long the native American communities, the first Americans of this country, have been left far behind. And they are, indeed, among the most vulnerable of our populations. They are recognized in our constitution as being our partners and they deserve to have the kind of respect and the kind of consultation with the United States of America that is deserving of the sovereigns of the Indian communities.
And therefore, we will take on a new agenda as we deal with America's first people and make sure that as we deal with America's first people that we are addressing the major challenges of our time for them, for all of us, which include economic development within the reservations, moving forward with education in a million-plus children, where we have dilapidated schools and an educational system that is not working for many of our native American young people. We will move forward with the leadership of people like Senator Dorgan and others and make Indian health care a reality for the native Americans of our reservations. And we will end the criminality, which has come to typify the reality for many native American tribes and reservations across this land. It is time that we bring a new sense of law enforcement within the reservations and to do that in a coordinated and collaborative way with law enforcement within the reservation.
Sixth, our young people. Our young people are important to all of us. You know, we created a program in the State of Colorado called "The Youth and Natural Resources Program. And as I spoke to Senator Landrieu a few days ago, we were recounting what that program had done. We brought about 5,000 kids to work in the parks and wildlife facilities of my state. And those kids were exposed to higher education. Environmental education is key and I hope that we are able to move forward and to establish what will be a crown jewel of a national youth conservation program for the nation through the Department of the Interior.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, let me just say that when I ran for Colorado attorney general in 1997 few people thought that I would win that race. And when I ran again in 2002, for re-election, and when I ran for United States Senate in 2004 I came up with the motto that said, "Fighting for Colorado's Land, Water and People." I didn't listen to my advisers or consultants.
They thought that it was a little bit crazy that I was coming up with that motto for my race, for my political race, "Fighting for Colorado's Land, Water and People." Well, I'm proud I did, because I won all three races by a good margin. And now, it is my extreme privilege to have the full support of President-elect Obama as I move forward to fight for America's land, water and people.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. BINGAMAN: Thank you for your very thorough statement. Let me start the questions and ask about this economic recovery bill that is currently being developed. I think if we're successful as I hope we are in getting you confirmed for this new position next week, the first thing on your plate will be -- as is the case with all of our nominees who are confirmed next week -- will be participating in the development of this economic recovery plan that the president is urging the Congress to adopt.
I think we're all familiar with the statistics that we've received sort of year after year from the Interior Department, that we have $9.5 billion of deferred maintenance backlog in the national parks. We have $5 billion of deferred backlog for road and trail maintenance in the national forests. We have $1.3 billion backlog for rural water projects. A three billion (dollar) backlog for aging water infrastructure.
The concern I would like you to comment on is, the latest information I have is that the stimulus proposal that we're going to be presented with only contains $600 million of proposed spending for our national parks, compared to the $2.75 billion that the Park Service estimates could be put to good use in the next two years. I'm also advised that the stimulus proposal will not contain any money for water projects. So I guess the question would be, if confirmed can you work with us to see that some of these legitimate needs of the parks and the forests and public lands are better addressed in this administration's economic recovery plan?
SEN. SALAZAR: Chairman Bingaman, the answer to that is yes indeed, and I look forward to working with you and the members of the Congress in fashioning a package that addresses the issues of energy, parks, Indian and water issues. You know, the package is still in its formative stages, but I have let those people who are working on crafting the package understand the importance of those areas that you spoke about. At the end of the day, it seems to me that, if you take the National Parks program for example, we know that there are over $2.5 billion of initiatives, projects ready to go across our National Parks system. And so we hope to be able to address those in the economic recovery package.
SEN. BINGAMAN: Let me just also ask your thoughts -- one of the responsibilities of the Department of the Interior is the BIA schools. And to my -- based on my experience here in the Senate, it seems to me that this is an area of federal funding that is always short-changed. There's never enough to build adequate facilities and adequately fund the needs of those BIA schools. I hope you can make this a priority as well in the budgets that come from the administration and perhaps as part of this economic recovery plan as well.
SEN. SALAZAR: I hope that we are able to do that as well, Mr. Chairman, and that the reconstruction of schools within Indian reservations will be part of what we might be able to address in this package.
SEN. BINGAMAN: Let me just make one other comment and then I'll defer to Senator Murkowski. I do think it's terrific that you are seeing the importance of having the Secretary of Interior intimately involved in the energy policy and the climate change policy decisions of this new administration. Those are issues that directly impact your department and that your department has a great role in. We had a chance to talk about that before, and I'm very encouraged that you see this as one of the areas that you're going to be very active.
So, let me stop with that and defer to Senator Murkowski.
SEN. MURKOWSKI: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Senator Salazar, thank you for your comments. Very well spoken, I appreciate it a great deal.
We had an opportunity to talk a little bit yesterday about offshore continental shelf development. And as you are very well aware, in fact you were very involved with it last session, the moratorium that was in place, the presidential moratorium and then the congressional moratorium that was allowed to expire last year. As secretary of the Interior, would you support the reinstatement of either ban, either the congressional or the presidential moratorium on offshore?
SEN. SALAZAR: As President-elect Obama has said, and I very much agree with him on this position, what we need to do is to look at the OCS in the context of a comprehensive energy plan that includes some of the components of the energy program that I outlined earlier. Development is part of that program. And within the OCS, given the opening up of the five-year plan within the Department of Interior, it really is up to me in consultation with you and, obviously, with President-elect Obama about how we move forward on the OCS. But we will have a very -- an open process with you and others as we decide how to move forward with that.
The fact of the matter is that there places in the OCS where it is appropriate for drilling, as this committee and as this Congress has done in places in the Gulf of Mexico, some places in Alaska as well. There may be other places that are off limits. But I think what we need is to have a thoughtful process as we go forward to make sure that we're doing the right thing in the OCS that can be done in an environmentally safe way and, at the same time, make sure that we are protecting the needs and issues of local communities and states.
I know there are members of this committee who have great concerns about opening up the OCS in certain areas.
For example, Senator Martinez and Senator Menendez have talked to me about this issue relative to their beaches and their economies. So it is not an easy issue, but I hope --
SEN. MURKOWSKI: What about the aspect of federal revenue sharing that can go to the states, go to the affected communities within those states?
SEN. SALAZAR: We don't have a position on that at this point in time, but we look forward consulting with this committee as we move forward on that issue. You know it's been a difficult and contentious issue, even among this committee and in the Senate. There are different formulas that are used for in-land production and revenue sharing there than what is used in Alaska, for example, and what is used in the Gulf, and so it's an issue of complexity that's going to require consultation and a lot of work to come up with a solution that hopefully will work for everybody.
SEN. MURKOWSKI: One of the things that we would like to work with you on is how we handle within the department and the various agencies the permitting of leases. What we're finding, at least up north, is the number of permits that are involved -- and you can appreciate why there are as many as there are -- the number of differing agencies that must move the permits through, just the level of complexity that we have -- this process can truly take years to go through, and what I am wondering is if you would be willing to at least discuss with us or better understand what some of the complications are to work to try to provide some coherency, some rationale to the permitting process and work to perhaps streamline in certain areas.
It's something that we have learned as we are attempting to provide for more access, at least in the northern part of the country, that the way that we have our system set up is not conducive to an efficient process. So I would just like your recognition that this is an area that we should be looking at and perhaps collaborating a little bit more on.
SEN. SALAZAR: Senator Murkowski, I think that within all areas where there is a process in place, if we can find ways of doing it better, we ought to do it. When I think of streamlined processes, we ought to do it.
And your comment reminds me as well that while the 2005 Energy Policy Act did a lot in terms of setting up offices and providing some resources for oil and gas, we need to recognize that we are going to need the same kinds of processes as we move forward with energy from other areas, including renewable energy. The siting of solar power plants, the siting of transmission facilities -- those are also going to take resources and perhaps some streamlining to get done.
SEN. MURKOWSKI: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'll come back with extra questions.
SEN. BINGAMAN: Senator Landrieu.
SEN. MARY LANDRIEU (D-LA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I appreciate my colleague, Senator Wyden, for allowing me to go first because I've got a Homeland Security confirmation hearing, Senator, in just a few minutes.
But, first of all, let me more than welcome you before this committee. It truly in some ways is a dream come true for some of us to have a person of your caliber and integrity and pureness of heart to run an agency that -- and department that is truly in need of extraordinary reform and a man who has in his heart the capacity and background to fight for the people whose resources these are, and for a long time, they've not been managed well in many ways, and so it really is an extraordinary opportunity, and I want to tell you you will have my vote, you will have my support, and I'll do everything I can to help meet the vision, to help you with the vision that you've outlined, which I think is ambitious, but most certainly necessary.
I want to associate myself with the remarks of the chairman relative to the backlog of critical needs in this nation from water resources to our parks and public lands. Opportunities have been squandered for years, and it's time to get that fixed. How quickly we can fix it, I don't know, but I do want to associate myself with his remarks, as I hope that we can potentially push the stimulus package to be more reflective of that reality.
Number two, I'd like to associate myself with the remarks of the ranking member. She has been my partner in many ways on this committee with you to continue to put the OCS, Outer Continental Shelf, 200 miles out from the state boundaries that circle this nation -- to try to put it on the forefront of the agenda because I think, in large measure these lands, perhaps because they lie under great depths of water, are not recognized as part of this agency's responsibility, but, as you so eloquently pointed out, not only are the lands on, you know, the 50 states, but surrounding our 50 states very important, which brings me to my fourth point and then I'll get to one question.
I'd like to mention two historical points quickly, and when I saw Senator Udall sitting with you and your brother, I remembered -- I recalled -- that one of the great stretches of leadership in this country came from Stewart Udall, the senator's uncle and the congressman's father, if I have that right, Mark's uncle and Tom's father.
He served as a secretary from 1961 until 1969, and in that term -- I think he had a heart a lot like yours -- he wanted to give the people some of the land that they actually owned, keep as much in private hands, of course, as possible, but for the public, and he created with the help of many I think a landmark piece of legislation called the Land and Water Conservation Fund. He created it, and he said that at some point in our nation's history, we need to start giving back to the land, we can't keep taking from it.
And so he created a program that authorized $450 million for the federal side and $450 million for the state side, distributed, in his vision, through governors and mayors to create parks, swimming holes where children can swim, who sometimes can't even see the sunlight from where they live, places so that kids could understand the value of protecting nature, not just big parks in the West, but in places in crowded cities from New York to New Jersey to the South and to the West.
Unfortunately, his vision, which I hope you can add to, was never funded. Not once in 65 years was the Land and Water Conservation Fund ever fully funded, either on the state or the federal side, and it's because it was created, but the money just never seemed to be there to do it, and so you and I passed a piece of legislation with 70 other senators two years ago to begin to try to recapture that great vision with the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act where some of the money that comes from the Outer Continental Shelf could be used to fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund so we could really meet the obligations of an expanding and growing population and take a portion of that and contribute to the coastal states that produce it, and not only fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, but fully appreciate the role that those coastal states play in generating the $10 billion a year now that's being generated from offshore.
So I know my time is getting close, but I wanted just to refresh that and to ask you: Are you committed to work with us to find every way we can to fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund and continue the revenue-sharing partnership that will make so many of these good things a reality, including saving Louisiana's coast and wetlands restoration?
SEN. SALAZAR: Senator Landrieu, I've been an advocate for a long time for the full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund and have joined many of you in getting the money that has gone into the Land and Water Conservation Fund for the last four years. We need to do everything we can to make sure that we achieve the vision of John Kennedy and Stewart Udall because there's a lot that we could do if, in fact, we had the Land and Water Conservation Fund fully funded.
Having said that, there are opportunities, as we develop our oil and gas resources around the country, to try to fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, but, as you know and everybody on this committee also knows, we are dealing with some difficult economic issues in our country which are going to affect our budget in numerous ways, and we're going to have to deal with those economic realities within the federal government and within our own budgets.
But, having recognized that, I mean, part of my excitement to take on this job are the kinds of opportunities that we can create hopefully through LWCF and some other programs that will do what we were able to do in Colorado, and perhaps, as we look at how we are collecting royalties, doing royalty reform with MMS and other kinds of things, if we do it right, that the money won't disappear into the dark hole of the Federal Treasury, but instead might come back to help us achieve a vision that we share with respect to the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
SEN. LANDRIEU: And coastal restoration would be included as well?
SEN. SALAZAR: I understand the importance of coastal restoration and making sure that we have money available to address the issues of coastal restoration and to mitigate against the impacts, frankly, that have occurred in places like Louisiana and other places where you have oil and gas development offshore.
SEN. LANDRIEU: Thank you.
SEN. BINGAMAN: Senator Martinez.
SEN. MEL MARTINEZ (R-FL): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
My dear friend, I'm so pleased to be here for you to, first of all, say congratulations and how proud of you I am for your appointment and to tell you that we'll sorely miss you here in the Senate. I was so proud to come to the Senate with you, become your friend, and I just wish you nothing but the best. I know how exciting this moment is for you. I loved and appreciated your statement. I thought it was terrific.
Having had the experience of sitting where you sit today and then what is about to unfold in your life over the next several months, I know how tremendously exciting it is at the birth of a new administration and the hopes and opportunities that you bring to this very important assignment. So I wish you the very, very best. I really will miss you here in the Senate, but I am delighted for you to move into an area that I know you have a great deal of passion for.
I want to tell you, first of all, that you may be the first secretary of interior to have visited El Yunque, which is the rainforest in Puerto Rico that you and I had occasion to visit. So I hope you'll remember that little spot where -- it would be so easy to be forgotten, but that was a beautiful place that we both jointly visited, and it actually is somewhat threatened by urban sprawl, as you'll recall, and so, anyway, keep an eye on that for us.
I also can't help but also want to encourage you to come to Florida to learn about our beautiful Everglades, the Everglades National Park, and our National Wildlife Refuge down there. We really have a tremendous national treasure that for you westerners it's probably a little difficult to grasp the beauty and the importance of it, but I really want to help educate you with that. I think it will be a terrific opportunity for you to get to know a different and very diverse part of the state, but one that has a tremendous importance to our environment and to our ecosystems in the state of Florida.
SEN. SALAZAR: I'll come if I get to wrestle an alligator.
SEN. MARTINEZ: Well, we'll arrange that.
SEN. SALAZAR: I can do that, right? Well, we'll be there.
SEN. MARTINEZ: You now have asked, so we will fulfill that request for sure. (Laughter.)
The City of St. Augustine -- and this is another one that I think you will have some interest in, the City of St. Augustine and Pensacola -- St. Augustine, of course, is the largest -- the oldest city in our country, much older than Jamestown and Williamsburg, and it is, in fact, the birth of our modern culture and civilization in this continent, and so, in the next few weeks and months, we'll be celebrating the 450th anniversary of the Spanish coming to Florida, and, of course, in St. Augustine and Pensacola -- and I know of your own heritage, how proud you hold it, and I just hope that maybe we'll get an opportunity for you to participate in some of that as time goes on. It's going to be a terrific thing to be a part of.
And on more controversial policy issues -- I love my dear ranking member, and we generally agree on the offshore issue, but there are some -- the devil in the details, and as it comes to the State of Florida, we really do have some concerns about offshore drilling. We want to make sure that states remain and are allowed to maintain an option of when and where drilling should take place, particularly if it may impact their environment, it may impact their way of life, it may impact their economies, and so I look forward to chatting with you more on that.
And in addition to the environmental issues and the economic issues, we have a very important military issue, and as the five-year plans are drawn, the military mission line which we've preserved to allow Eglin Air Force Base and NAS Pensacola to maintain their training mission over the Gulf of Mexico is a terribly important issue for us in the State of Florida.
I have no questions. I just want to tell you how much we're going to miss you and how proud I am of you and delighted that we've had an opportunity to become friends here in the Senate. I look forward to continuing our relationship in your new assignment.
SEN. SALAZAR: If I may, Chairman Bingaman, just a personal point of privilege with Senator Martinez.
I, too, recognize the historicity if our election in 2004, and I very much appreciated the friendship that we have shared, and I look forward to continuing our work together on a number of things in Florida, and, as I said earlier on the OCS, in some ways -- and I know it's an issue that many of you are concerned about on this committee -- we have a great opportunity in front of us because essentially nothing has been written.
If you look at the five-year map that we have on OCS, you know, the frontier zones that have been described there really are a few places in Alaska and some off posts in Virginia, but we need to take a look at the map -- and we'll do that in consultation with all of you and with the local stakeholders and with the state -- to see whether we can come up with something that makes common sense.
And I know of the particular concerns of Florida and the military concerns with respect to Gulf Coast development over the west coast of Florida. So I look forward to working with you on those -- (inaudible).
SEN. MARTINEZ: Thank you. I appreciate your sensitivity to these issues, and I think that the issue really is to work together on how we do it because I think drilling in the Gulf of Mexico -- and I know the senator from Louisiana and I have worked together on compromises and reaching accommodations that can allow for drilling to take place in the Gulf, but it does it in a way that is compatible with what we need to preserve.
Thank you very much.
SEN. BINGAMAN: Senator Wyden.
SEN. RON WYDEN (D-OR): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Since this is on its way to being a full-fledged bouquet-tossing contest -- ((Laughter.) -- I just want to say how much I'm looking forward to such a good and decent man heading the Department of Interior as Ken Salazar.
You have some very heavy lifting ahead. In the political suites at the Interior Department, they have regularly been trampling on good science. That's where Jack Abramoff went. That's where Steven Griles went. That's where Julie MacDonald worked. And you now have to go in there and drain the swamp, and America has heard you say this morning, to your credit, that that is priority number one.
Now let me start with Julie MacDonald. She was overseeing the Fish & Wildlife operation. It was clear she had a political agenda, she resigned after I pushed for it, and we sought a review of the decisions she made that we knew were politically tainted.
Regrettably, Secretary Kempthorne sought a review of only a modest number of those MacDonald decisions.
I sought to almost double the number, and the inspector general found that almost double the number of decisions that Secretary Kempthorne sought to review were politically tainted.
So my first question to my friend is, since these decisions are being revised, but they're being used for a host of projects and land management decisions now, how do you envision going in there and correcting those tainted decisions that have so much influence on public lands policy?
SEN. SALAZAR: Thank you, Senator Wyden, and thank you for your kind words and your friendship over the years, and your guidance on so many different things over time.
My response is twofold. First, we will review what decisions have been made and see whether there is action that is necessary in order to be able to correct decisions to make sure that they're in compliance with the law and to make sure that they're in compliance with the science. There's no substitute for good science to guide the kinds of issues that you've talked about with the Fish & Wildlife Service, and so we will make sure that that's what guides us as we move forward with decision-making, and I will assure you that the people that we will bring in to oversee those efforts will be people who will make the calls based on the balls and strikes of science, not on the balls and strikes of politics.
SEN. WYDEN: I'm encouraged, Colleague, by some of the people you're talking about bringing in, and if you could have them get back to me and Senator Barrasso in particular -- we chair that subcommittee, and, obviously, are chair and ranking minority member -- with a timetable for correcting those MacDonald decisions -- they have such an impact on lands policy because, in effect, right now, decisions are being made on the basis of those politically tainted judgments. So I appreciate your answer there.
Let me turn to one other important ethics area, and that's Minerals Management Service. The headlines recently there -- I'll just quote -- were "sex, drug use, and graft," in effect being what seemed to have occupied a substantial amount of time there at the Minerals Management Service. The chairman has introduced, I think, a very thoughtful long-term approach for dealing with it, and Senator Barrasso and I have introduced a bipartisan reform effort to again get an ethical compass back at Minerals Management.
What Senator Barrasso and I have called for in our legislation, for example, is to implement all of the interior inspector general's recommendations for Minerals Management, and we also seek to make the director there subject to Senate confirmation. Now I'm sure you haven't had a chance to review the all-important Barrasso-Wyden legislation, but your general thoughts on fixing Minerals Management, including implementing the inspector general's recommendations, and in a general way your thoughts about our legislation or other approaches?
SEN. SALAZAR: Thank you, Senator Wyden.
I think you and Senator Barrasso have put your finger on an issue that, obviously, needs review, and as the inspector general found, he had a number of recommendations. We will take a look at those recommendations. We'll take a look at your legislation as well as the legislation that Senator Bingaman has introduced and, hopefully, in the months ahead, be able to move forward with some kind of a royalty reform package that also will address MMS.
I am aware of the fact that MMS does not have an organic statutory act for its basis, and so I think it is prime time for us, as we look at all these minerals management issues and trying to clean up the messes that MMS has been involved in, to move forward with a comprehensive approach, and we will be working on that beginning day one.
SEN. WYDEN: Mr. Chairman, we have many colleagues here. I think with your leave, if I could submit some additional questions in writing?
SEN. BINGAMAN: We'll be glad to include those questions in writing.
SEN. RICHARD BURR (R-NC): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And Ken, congratulations. Welcome. I think every member probably hopes that the chairman will move your conformation as expeditiously as we can, and I see no reason that that can't happen.
I think Mel probably just left to go buy you flowers, given the exchange that I heard. But I think most of us hold you in very high regard. And the first observation I would make, Mr. Chairman, is you are the nominee today, you can still back out and stay in the Senate, and possibly after all the questions that you hear and the magnitude of the challenges that Congress will pressure you to look at.
At the end of the day, I realize that you will be part of an administration who has a president that will set the agenda. And a number of us have had conversations with him and we feel very comfortable as to where he is headed.
At the end of the day it's your responsibility to carry out those wishes, his wishes, and to hopefully work in coordination with the Congress. And I have no doubts today that you will do that.
As part of this process though it's important that we do ask some questions, and I want to ask you two very specific questions. In the EPAC of 2005 it established a national program to develop oil shale and oil sands, including a programmatic environmental impact assessment and other activities necessary for full-scale leasing of federal lands. In December of '05, DOI issued five research and development demonstration leases on public lands, all of them in your state, if I remember, managed by BLM.
SEN. SALAZAR: Yeah, I wish those oil shales were in your state, in the Carolinas.
SEN. BURR: I wish we had the oil shale. And it's my understanding that the final commercial oil shale leasing regulations for federal lands will in fact take effect January 17th. Under what circumstances are you willing to support commercial competitive leasing on public lands?
SEN. SALAZAR: Senator Burr, first of all I appreciate the kind comments, and appreciate the work we've done on Veterans Affairs, and other issues over the years, and look forward to continuing to work with you on many issues. On this specific issue, with respect to oil shale, my view has been that we need to look at it as part of a comprehensive energy plan, but we ought not to be reckless and thoughtless about how we move forward.
The reality of it is, in my state of Colorado where 80 percent of the oil shale reserves are located, the current director of lands and minerals, the assistant secretary, has said that he doesn't believe that there is going to be any commercial development until the year 2016.
The companies themselves have said the same thing. And so my question has become, well, why do we need to move headlong with commercial oil shale leasing at this point when I supported, as did this committee, in 2005 in the Energy Policy Act, the legislation that created the research and development program that will tell us whether or not we can in fact develop commercial oil shale.
I mean it is rock, rock, rock. And we don't have the answers to some very important questions, including how much water is it going to take, which is an important question for the west places, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming. Two, how much energy is going to be consumed to melt the oil from the rock?
None of those answers have been given to us yet. And that's why I think the research and development phase that has been underway is very important. Like with all other rules that have been issued in the last days by the administration, we'll take a look at them and see what's workable, and see what makes commonsense as we move forward.
SEN. BURR: I appreciate the answer. And I know you understand that technology will only move so far. If in fact they're not certain about what the future looks like, and I think it's important to do exactly what you said, and that's to evaluate these preliminary steps. But let's make sure that they're evaluated fairly and not affected in any way by artificially suggesting there is not going to be a fair open competitive process for these lands in the future if the technology and the research proves itself.
In April, last April, the department proposed a rule to allow carry of firearms in national parks, where -- be authorized by state law. Final rule was published in December and took effect last week. The change was proposed after 51 senators signed letters to Secretary Kempthorne requesting to make such a change. Now two lawsuits have been filed to overturn the new rule. Do you commit when sworn in that you'll aggressively defend the rule against those lawsuits?
SEN. SALAZAR: Senator Burr, it's a very good question that you asked, and a very important one, that I know many people are watching for in this hearing. And let me say first that the president-elect has a good respect for the second amendment, and the articulation, and the recent Supreme Court decision.
Secondly, I grew up with a gun often next to me either watching sheep out in the prairie or next to my bed at home for self- protection. So I have my own sense of the importance of guns and gun ownership and what all that means.
This particular rule that has issued is not one that I have yet reviewed. It is subject to litigation, and we'll take a look at it once we get to the department and see what makes more sense in the context of national parks, and also in the context of the second amendment.
SEN. BURR: Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. BINGAMAN: Well, thank you.
SEN. BERNARD SANDERS (I-VT): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. BINGAMAN: I guess Senator Menendez was prior. I didn't see him come back in. Okay. Go right ahead.
SEN. SANDERS: Senator Salazar, welcome. And you have an awesome responsibility on your shoulders. But I'm confident that you're going to do a great job in taking on those challenges.
I was very pleased to hear in your remarks, your understanding about the crisis of global warming, your understanding about the absurdity of us spending many, many hundreds of billions of dollars every year importing foreign oil into this country, and the need to move toward energy efficiency and sustainable energy. I know that you believe that very much. And you're now in a position to make some of that happen.
One of the concerns that I have is the distance between Washington and the rest of the world, and the rest of our country is just very, very far. We talk, and talk, and talk, and people don't see anything happen. And I would hope very much with your leadership, with President Obama's leadership that we could bring some concrete -- real concrete changes so people understand what sustainable energy means, what energy conservation means.
And I suspect that within the next few months more money is going to come into those areas, and probably in the whole history of our country. And that's a great step forward if we use that money wisely.
One issue that I want to just briefly get your response to is, I believe that one of the technologies of many that are out there, to move quickly, to bring us clean sustainable energy is solar thermal power plants. This is a technology that according to some experts can take advantage of the fact that the southwest has been called the Saudi Arabia of solar energy.
It is sitting there waiting to happen. And we have talked about it, and we have talked about it, and it still is not happening. And the crisis in terms of credit right now has made it that much more difficult.
A, what are your feelings about the potential of solar thermal power plants in the southwest? What role can the federal government play given the credit crisis right now in pushing this technology forward, in your judgment?
SEN. SALAZAR: Senator Sanders, thank you as well for your friendship, and your camaraderie, and guidance, and sharing advice over the years.
Let me say -- you know, I think solar has great potential, and it's not just the solar photovoltaic but also the concentrated solar power that you speak about. And the technology there, as the National Renewable Energy Lab will tell you, is a technology that is moving quickly forward. But we know that we are not in a place where we are simply striking out at something that is not proven.
In my state alone, as we spoke yesterday, I spoke about the 10 megawatt power plant in the San Luis Valley which will grow to 100 megawatts. We spoke about the 300 megawatt power plant in the deserts of Arizona that Arizona Public Service Company is constructing, and others.
So I think there is huge potential. And I think that solar has got to be one of the crown jewels, if you will, as we move forward to creating this house of energy independence. And I will be working on that agenda. It's an agenda that president-elect and -- Obama and I very much share.
And part of the challenge that we'll face is, how do we create all of this energy in places that are sun drenched, like New Mexico, Arizona, the San Luis Valley, other places, and get it to the places where it has to be used.
Well, part of that is going to be dealing with my department on the issues of siting as well as dealing with the issues of transmission. And it doesn't do any good to produce the energy if you can't get it to the place where it's going to be used.
So I look forward to working with this committee to making it a reality and to make sure -- I would not be taking this job, Senator Sanders if this was about talk and no action. You know, I think on this whole agenda the time for talking has ended. It is time to get down to the business of getting it done.
SEN. SANDERS: Well, thank you very much. And I would hope that within the first four years of the Obama administration we can in fact construct a number of solar thermal plants and show the world that we are serious about this technology.
The other question that I would ask is, will you use your office and the many facilities under your jurisdiction to demonstrate to people how we can move forward in terms of energy efficiency and sustainable energy?
There is a very strong argument to be made that if the government, United States government itself, which is a huge consumer of energy, which certainly millions of people everyday interface with, that if we are using solar, if we are using wind, if we are using energy efficient vehicles we can have an impact upon our whole economy and educating the public as well. Is that something -- a mission that you see possible for that -- for the agency of the interior?
SEN. SALAZAR: Absolutely. And it is the president-elect's mission, and we will be part of that mission as we take this energy moon shot. And we know that conservation of what we do with federal facilities we can serve as examples to the rest of the world. So the answer is, yes.
SEN. SANDERS: Okay. Well, Ken, we wish you the best of luck. And I'll certainly be working with you. Thank you.
SEN. BINGAMAN: Next would be Senator Barrasso, then Senator Menendez.
SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R-WY): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Salazar, congratulations. It's been a privilege to work with you in the Senate, to serve with you on this committee to cosponsor a number of bills together. We are neighbors in Colorado and Wyoming, and we have many similar issues. I know you're going to do a terrific job as the Secretary of Interior. I'm looking forward to working with you over the next four years. With that I do have a couple of questions, Senator.
SEN. SALAZAR: Thank you, Senator Barrasso.
SEN. BARRASSO: And we'll start with the easy one, because you were going to wrestle alligators with Senator Martinez.
But I'll tell you about the -- also invite you to Wyoming to deal with the wolves of Wyoming. There was a ruling that came out yesterday that said that wolves were removed from the Endangered Species Act -- the listing on the Endangered Species Act, and removed from the list in Montana, and in Idaho, but not in Wyoming, due to a recovery plan that department and judges were not happy with -- fully happy with the Wyoming plan.
It would seem to me that the wolf is either endangered or not, and depending on which side of a state line the wolf happened to be shouldn't impact on if that wolf should be listed or not, because these things move around.
So my question is, do you believe that when a distinct population segment of an endangered species has been found to be recovered by the department -- and the department has found that wolf has been recovered as a species -- that the entire population should be de- listed? And will you work with the government to make sure the gray wolves are de-listed in Wyoming as soon as possible.
SEN. SALAZAR: Senator Barrasso, I appreciate the question. And let me take the opportunity to say that the Endangered Species Act is an important law. And I think it has in fact worked in a way to preserve God's given creations so that your children, and my children, and our grandchildren will be able to see that creation here on this earth. And we have some major challenges.
But we have had some frustrations, but also some major successes with respect to its implementation. I was one of the originators and creators of a recovery program for the Whooping Crane on the South Platte River, which involved your state, Colorado, and Nebraska. I've been involved in the seven-state Upper Colorado recovery program, which is working well.
I don't know about -- enough about the rule, and the decision that was issued by the Department of Interior, yesterday, with respect to the gray wolf. We will take a look at it. We'll study it, and make appropriate decisions.
SEN. BARRASSO: Well, I would ask that your department work closely with the state of Wyoming to have the same wolf de-listed that is de-listed from Idaho now, and Montana, also de-listed from Wyoming. The same species are just crossing the border. And in terms of where they are on an imaginary line it seems to be that we can do a better job than that. So thank you, I appreciate --
SEN. SALAZAR: May -- let me, if I may -- and you probably should not be argumentative with Senators whose votes you want, and I think you already told me you're voting for me so I can be argumentative with you.
SEN. BARRASSO: I said you had my vote, my support, but more importantly you have my friendship.
SEN. SALAZAR: Here is a deal on these recovery programs. You know, they are multi-state in nature, because the species don't know the political boundaries like you and I know the political boundaries. Okay. And so that will be one of the issues, Senator Barrasso, that we're going to have to take a look at on this decision.
At the end of the day, these ESA decisions that are being made have to be based on the science, and we'll take a look at it. I don't -- you know, haven't been involved in the decision making, and haven't seen what Fish and Wildlife Service did with respect to looking at the gray wolf and the numbers. But there is an opportunity to take a look at it under the law, and we will take a look at it.
SEN. BARRASSO: Thank you.
Following up with the Endangered Species Act, and the role -- I'm asking about the Obama Administration if they believe Congress, when the Endangered Species Act was created in 1973, if they envisioned the act becoming -- if you think that -- believe Congress thought that that Endangered Species Act had anything to do with climate change.
And we -- look at some of the things that are coming down the line with the listing of the polar bear, and what impact that might have on the lower 48 states in terms of construction and agriculture development and other projects and ask about the role of the Endangered Species Act in global warming.
SEN. SALAZAR: You know, there is no doubt that climate change and global warming is having an impact on a whole host of important natural features of this world, including the species that we have. And it's something that we will take a look at, as we look at climate change within the Department of Interior and within the Obama Administration.
Now, the role that the ESA will play into all of that, that's something that we will take a look at as we move forward. But I don't have a specific answer to your question on that today.
SEN. BARRASSO: Mr. Chairman, I think my time has expired. If there is a second round of questions I'd like to ask a few more questions. Thank you.
SEN. BINGAMAN: Senator Menendez.
SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D-NJ): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I -- it's a bittersweet hearing for me, my Hermano -- that's what we call each other, my brother, is going to go serve the nation, is going to leave the Senate where he has served with such distinction. And for those of us who are Americans of Hispanic descent it reduces our ranks by one. But I know we're going to have a strong advocate in the administration.
Now, I may not be a westerner, Senator Salazar, but that doesn't make our part of the nation immune to the impact of the Interior Department. And so I have some provincial questions I want to ask you. But before that I want to ask you an overarching question.
I've heard you talk about energy, both as a member of this committee, and in this new assignment. How do you see your role in this galaxy of energy advocates? How do you see the role of Carol Browner versus the role that you're going to play? And what role do you see yourself playing in this respect?
SEN. SALAZAR: Thank you, Senator Menendez. And I too will miss you greatly because we've done so many things over the years, and we'll frankly have an opportunity to work on so many issues in the future.
You are a Hermano, a brother, and I will never forget that. I will also say formally in front of this committee for the transcript of this hearing that Bob Menendez speaks both English and Spanish a lot better than I do.
And so you're not losing anything in terms of linguistic proficiency with my departure.
SEN. MENENDEZ: I hope you're not filibustering on my questions, on my provincial questions.
SEN. SALAZAR: Having said that on your -- let me just -- one observation, and then a response to your question. I would hope that one of the things that you can do, Senator Menendez and the rest of this committee is not to look at this department as a department of the west, because it is not.
It is as much a department of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island as it is the department that oversees the BLM lands of New Mexico. And I think for far too long this department has been seen as something off to the west. I want us to change that image and that brand for the Department of Interior.
And I think this committee on the Democratic side and the Republican side is a primary engine of helping us change that reality of what the Department of Interior is, whether it's with respect to historic preservation, or the OCS, or whole host of other issues.
So I would hope that you can help me do that.
Secondly, with respect to your specific question on my role, my conversation and my agreement with the president-elect is I report to him. The president-elect asked me to leave this United States Senate post to help him change the world. I believe he can change the world.
And I believe he is a transformational figure that can help get that done. But I work for him. And that means that I will play a keystone role in helping craft the energy agenda.
I would not have taken this job if I was not given the assignment to help craft the energy moon shot that we will take in part through the economic stimulus package that will be crafted, and then through energy legislation that will hopefully be before this Congress before too long.
So that's the kind of robust role that I intend to play. It's the kind of robust role that was offered to me in this position.
SEN. MENENDEZ: Well, I appreciate and look forward to that.
Now, let me get to some specific issues that I -- I want to have you -- will you make a commitment to come with me, after you're settled in, to the New Jersey, New York region? We have two issues.
The crown of the Statue of Liberty since September 11th has been held to bureaucratic shackle. To your credit you offered an amendment that the president-elect voted for to free up the Statue of Liberty, including the crown.
So I hope you will come after you are the interior secretary, with me, to the Statue of Liberty, help me break the shackles on the crown, as well as to Ellis Island, which is next door where we have a public-private partnership going on to restore the whole section of the island. That in fact is in New Jersey territorial waters as a result of a Supreme Court decision. That was our whole public health system where immigrants who came through at that time went through there.
But we've gotten some money to sustain it because it was totally ready to fall apart. But we have a public-private partnership. It has languished with the National Park Service. You know, we could get a very significant commitment from the private sector to go in.
So I hope you will come with me, after you're settled in. Let us free the crown. I'm sure there is an intelligent way to do that for some type of limited access to it. Let us make sure that that public- private partnership works so that we can restore the whole access to Ellis Island on this side.
And then finally, I hope -- as you know, I'm in the minority on this committee on this issue, but it is critical to my state in terms of the issue of offshore drilling.
New Jersey's second part of its economy is driven by tourism. And that tourism would not take place except for the New Jersey shore. Several years ago we had medical waste land on our beaches, and that created a huge problem for our economy for several years.
So I hope that you will work with us and give coastal states like mine a seat at the table as we move forward on the question of what is appropriate on offshore drilling and what is not.
SEN. SALAZAR: Okay.
SEN. BINGAMAN: Senator Cantwell.
SEN. SALAZAR: I'd be happy to respond.
SEN. : Mr. Chairman, can I --
SEN. BINGAMAN: Oh, yes, Senator Salazar did you wish to respond.
SEN. : Thank you.
SEN. BINGAMAN: Go right ahead.
SEN. SALAZAR: I noticed that his time was up, that's why I looked to you for permission.
SEN. BINGAMAN: I see. I thought you were looking for me to move on to the next question.
SEN. SALAZAR: Let me just respond, if I may.
SEN. BINGAMAN: No disrespect.
SEN. : (Off mike.)
SEN. BINGAMAN: I'm well aware of that.
SEN. SALAZAR: Let me first say that with respect to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, first I do commit coming to -- with you to New Jersey and New York and visiting those sites and understanding more about why those restrictions were put into place. I don't know enough about why those restrictions were put into place. But we will frankly examine those together and make the appropriate decisions on how we move forward.
I understand the historicity and great importance of Ellis Island. And we'll make sure that that's a priority in terms of how we move forward in my department.
Let me -- on your last point, which I think is the one that I have seen you get passionate about at least a dozen or so times on the floor of the U.S. Senate the last several years, and that's on the OCS, and making that the stakeholders are at the table.
The answer to that is yes. You know, we need to make sure that as we move forward with a comprehensive energy plan that might include drilling in some areas on the OCS that those communities and those states that are going to be most affected certainly have a voice and are at the table.
SEN. BINGAMAN: Senator Cantwell.
SEN. MARIA CANTWELL (D-WA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And I too want to add my congratulations to Ken Salazar. We are going to miss you. It's been a pleasure to be a seatmate with you on Finance, and to hear your voice on energy issues. And I want to say that the Interior Department to have somebody who has expertise in water rights and management issues is of utmost importance.
But your passion on the Land and Water Conservation Fund will be put to good use in the Department of Interior. And certainly your passion about energy issues, particularly siting of transmission, really will help us in this effort. So I look forward to working with you on all those issues.
If I could -- I don't know that anybody has asked you about mining reform, the 1872 Mining Law. But clearly the reform of that legislation is long overdue. And to me it's very critical to protecting our environment and our economy. So I wanted to ask you, if I could, if you're aware that the Environmental Protection Agency is estimating that the abandoned mine cleanup price tag is at least $32 billion. And the estimates are that 40% of western headwaters are contaminated by runoff from abandoned mines.
I don't know if those are numbers that you're familiar with. But my question is, what will you do to support strong mining reform, including strong reform of the royalty regime?
SEN. SALAZAR: Thank you very much, Senator Cantwell. And I too will miss you. And we'll miss your work and your leadership on so many of the energy issues that are so important to the country. But I do believe that with you and the members of this committee we're going to, this time, not miss the moon shot on energy independence that we fought so hard together for. So this is our time, and we're going to get it done.
Let me say that with respect to the -- with mining -- with respect to mining reform, the 1872 Mining Law which I've worked on for a long time, and know it well, is something that needs to be changed. It's amazing that over 130 years later the law has not been changed.
The reality of the United States of America has changed thus significantly in that century-plus, and yet the law remains the same. And so I look forward to working with this committee.
I know there are several proposals out there on changes. I think they're already -- there are parts of reform that can be agreed on relatively easily. There are other that are -- may be more difficult, but we will work on it to try to finally get across the finish line, a reform to the 1872 Mining Law that does make sense.
Secondly, with respect to abandoned mines, I know the reality of them, because we have tens of thousands. I think it's about 100,000 in the state of Colorado that are abandoned mines. And they create the kind of circumstance that you describe.
And, you know, as orphan mines with nobody having ownership over them, they essentially are a scar on the public domain. It has huge environmental consequences on our streams, especially in some headwaters areas. There has been a reality that there hasn't been the money to move forward with abandoned mine reclamation. We need to look at that and try to come up with some solutions.
You have been a sponsor of Good Samaritan legislation here for the last several years. We haven't gotten that across the finish line, but there may be ways in which we can get non-profits and -- as well as the private sector to come to help us deal with that issue, which really is an issue that effects not only the west, but a large part of America.
SEN. CANTWELL: Well, since you said you knew the 1872 Mining Law very well I want to follow up, if I could, on a few questions.
One of the issues is obviously that mining under the current law has the -- is interpreted as the highest use on that land and thereby permitted. So would you require those new mining operations be balanced with other things like water quality standards, and you know, other uses so that mining wouldn't always be the highest and best use?
SEN. SALAZAR: Let me say that as we look at reform for the 1872 Mining Law, it's a law that was written before there was any sense of consciousness in the world or here in America with respect to issues like reclamation and impacts on water quality for mining operations and those sorts of things.
So the kind of reform that does need to take place needs to bring a law, which is a very old law, up to the kind of modern understanding that we have about the impacts of mining.
I'm not against mining. I don't want to get this committee thinking that I'm against mining, because I understand the importance of our mineral assets and putting them to good use. But I think --
SEN. CANTWELL: For things like strict water quality standards so that pollution of drinking water isn't happening, those kinds of standards. You're willing to put stronger standards in place?
SEN. SALAZAR: We do need stronger standards than what are set forth in the 1872 mining law, and that will be part of the discussion and dialogue we will engage in as we try to work with you and others to put together a reform that is sensible, that is -- that makes common sense and ultimately can garner the votes of the members of the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.
SEN. CANTWELL: Thank you. And if I just could put point in about the national parks and the funding -- I know, again, because you're a champion of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, but we have had park layoffs, we have maintenance backlogs. This is part of crown jewels of our public land system, and we need to do more to maintain it. So I look forward to working with you on that.
SEN. SALAZAR: Thank you very much.
SEN. BINGAMAN: Senator Dorgan.
SEN. BYRON DORGAN (D-ND): Senator Bingaman, thank you.
And Senator Salazar, we're all very proud of you and wish you well. And we'll miss you here in the Senate, but I know you're going to do a great job as interior secretary. I would like, just for a moment, to mention a couple of items and then you could respond to them. You and I have had a chance to visit and talk about these items.
First, the Bureau of Indian Affairs. I think it is a horrible mess. It is a -- it's a serious problem in many, many ways. The most significant unemployment and poverty in this country, the most significant law enforcement challenges, housing, education, and so on exist on Indian reservations. And I believe three out of the last four years we haven't had an assistant secretary for Indian Affairs.
I mean it's just been in unbelievable mess in a lot of ways. It's bureaucratic. I mean there are buildings that have been built on reservations that are completed, sitting empty, completely empty because somebody hasn't yet signed a lease in the building in the -- you know, in the BIA. Somebody's got a job and doesn't do it. So fix the BIA. You'll do that, right?
SEN. DORGAN: Anyway, I'll give you a chance. It is just in unbelievable mess, and it's so frustrating. And I chair the Indian Affairs Committee. We work a lot on these projects. I'm anxious to continue to work with you.
Water projects -- North Dakota was the recipient of an agreement with the federal government some 50 years ago -- 60 years ago now. If we would take a flood the size of the state of Rhode Island and keep it forever, if they could build a flood in North Dakota in the middle of our state and keep it forever, they'd give us the benefits.
So now they can play softball, you know, in the early evenings, early spring evenings in Missouri because we tamed the Missouri River by creating a permanent flood in North Dakota. But 50 years later, we still haven't received all the benefits that were promised us. We got the cost, got the flood, the flood is there, but we haven't got the benefits.
And you and I have talked about the water projects that are supposed to flow from that. And I hope very much for your support on those projects, especially now the Red River Valley Water Project which is so very important.
The Park Service -- you've had an experience in Colorado. We have, for example, an elk herd that's far, far, too large for the Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the badlands so they need to thin it. The first notion was maybe they will hire some federal sharpshooters and have some helicopters -- helicopter out the meat. Well, that's just -- you know, that's just dumb.
So the way to do it, of course, is to allow qualified hunters to come in and thin the herd and take the meat home. They do that in other park on iguanas in Colorado. We need to, you know, exert some common sense on those issues, and that's just one example.
And on an Indian reservation in North Dakota, we're trying to get the Interior Department to do a one-stop shop where we merge four agencies into one location so that they can drill for oil on the reservation. They're drilling north of the reservation, west of the reservation, south of the reservation, but there's a 49-step process as is -- as you might expect in the bureaucracy, to get a permit to drill for oil.
So everybody around it is experiencing the benefits of drilling, but that area where it would be most important, it seems to me, to address poverty issues and so on. There are just a few wells being drilled. So those are things we've talked about. And I hope -- I know that you've spent some time thinking about some of these issues.
I really want to work with you.
I'm especially pleased that someone from the Senate is going to be there, and that you will be able to take our telephone calls and go to New Jersey as Senator Menendez has suggested, and I hope to come to North Dakota as well. Would you wish to respond to a couple of those items, Senator Salazar?
SEN. SALAZAR: I'd be delighted to do that. And first let me say, Senator Dorgan, I admire your advocacy not only on the new energy frontier, but also your advocacy on issues relating to Native Americans. And as I indicated to you in one of our private conversations, I will never forget being the chair, the presiding officer in the U.S. Senate when you were making the arguments on the reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Act.
I was proud to join you, in part because I strongly believe that you are right. And the passion you feel is the same passion that I feel about making sure that the most vulnerable of our communities in our nation are in fact brought to the table and given the kind of opportunity that the rest of Americans seem to have.
I think the fact that we have not had an assistant secretary of Indian affairs in the Department of Interior for four years is frankly a slap in the face to the Native American communities and to the responsibilities under the law of the Department of Interior. I have someone on the hook that I think will make you very proud if he agrees to do this job.
And I think we'll be able to address many of the problems that really have gone frankly without attention, including the issues of health care and education and law enforcement and the rest of the issues which you have so passionately spoken about. So it will be on our -- on my personal radar screen, and it'll be high on the radar screen.
With respect to the water projects, we'd spoken about the water projects; I will take a look at them. I need to find out more about them and exactly what the status of them is, but I promise you that it is something that we will take a look at.
On the management of the elk herds, if the truth of the matter is that we need to manage our wildlife in a way that makes sense -- and I know this is a very complex and difficult issue, but at the end of the day we need to find some common-sense solutions, and I look forward to working with the Park Service on that as well.
And finally, on the one-stop shopping issue relating to drilling on the reservation -- seems to me to make sense. You know, if all the way around the reservation you basically have a process that has been expedited -- you know, in my state -- I mean what's going on in my state now in terms of drilling, in part has happened because of what we did here with the 2005 Energy Policy Act which expedited some of these things.
But I don't think that the Indian reservations should be disadvantaged by a system which has them go through 43 different steps. So we will work on that and try to streamline it.
SEN. DORGAN: Well, Senator Salazar, you inherit a very big bureaucracy and a very important agency, and I don't mean to tarnish or diminish that agency at all. But I was thinking as we were talking, of my -- one of my first experiences with your agency was when the prairie dogs took over a very small picnic area in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
And the Park Service decided that they were going to do a study on how to move the picnic -- there's just a few benches -- I mean move the picnic area, and they came up with an idea of spending $0.25 million to move the picnic area. And I said, well, you know, a couple of 16-year-old boys that I know can move the prairie dogs and do it in a day or two and -- but I lost.
And so then later I went to them. I heard that -- I read a piece where a fellow had -- from Oklahoma, had invented something that was a vacuum where you could actually vacuum prairie dogs and would put them into a back of a truck with mattresses on the -- in the box, and then sell them -- they were selling them for pets in Japan.
So I went back to the Forest Service and said I've got a better idea for you. But I've never been successful in convincing them that any of these ideas have merit. My only point is on whether it's thinning an elk herd or reclaiming a picnic area or doing anything like that, I really hope that we can use a bit more common sense and get somewhere above the bureaucracy on some of these decisions.
And your service in that United States Senate has just been marked by that notion of common sense. That's why I'm so pleased to support your nomination, and I wish you well. I think you're going to do a great job. Thank you very much.
SEN. SALAZAR: Thank you, Senator Dorgan.
SEN. BINGAMAN: Senator Udall.
SEN. MARK UDALL (D-CO): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I know there are a lot of Coloradans here today, and I want to make sure the record is clear. Senator Salazar is and will always be my senior senator. And it's again such a thrilling day for all of us to consider the possibilities.
Senator, if you might know the concerns but also the opportunities that surround coal production and the use of coal are front-and-center force, I'd like to hear you talk about how Department of Interior can drive some of these new technologies of capturing and sequestering carbon emissions at the same time ensuring that we have a robust coal production industry. If you'd talk about your vision in that area it'll be terrific.
SEN. SALAZAR: Thank you, Senator Udall. And let me just say that I'm very, very proud to be able to call you Senator, and also very proud of the fact that you're part of this committee, because you join one of the committees that has this -- one of the signature issues of our time in its hands.
And you will bring to it the kind of passion that you brought to renewable energy and a whole host of other things shared by the members of this committee. So you will do well, and I look forward to our continuing friendship and our working relationship as well.
Let me say a word about coal. Coal is a controversial subject. The fact of the matter is that it covers today much of America, and there are jobs related to what we do with coal as well.
And so one of the challenges that we face is how we move forward with the kinds of clean coal technologies that this committee has talked about at some length over the last several years as the author of several pieces of legislation, including the carbon capture and sequestration aspects of legislation that this committee authored.
And I believe that we will move forward with the funding of some of those demonstration projects, so that we can find ways of burning coal in a manner that doesn't contribute to our environmental challenges with respect to climate change. And I would hope that as part of what we are able to move forward with in our energy package that we very much have a part of that, I will certainly be an advocate of making that happen.
SEN. UDALL: I took time to go downstairs and be a part of a hearing -- confirmation hearing in the Armed Services Committee, so forgive me if this question has already been addressed. But one of the real challenges -- but I think, again, opportunities we have is in the whole area of transmission and building larger capacity, more efficient transmission lines.
Would you care to share with the committee your thoughts on how we meet that challenge of additional transmission to -- as you talked about in your opening remarks?
SEN. SALAZAR: Now, Mark, I think what we -- I mean Senator Udall -- I think what we -- (laughs) -- you know, what we need to do is to be proactive on that agenda and to develop the kinds of transmission corridors that will take us from where we have the opportunities for renewable energy, whether that's solar or whether it's geothermal or whether it's wind, to the places where the energy is needed.
And that will be one of the highest priority items for me in the Department of Interior as I work alongside the rest of my energy team. You, who have spent so much time in our valley, I know you have also seen the maps of the United States of America out of the National Renewable Energy Lab that show where our great opportunities are for solar energy. And they are in the Southwest and in the Southern part of Colorado.
But they obviously don't extend to places like Vermont or Maine or other places with -- there's some capacity there, but not for the big kinds of plants that Senator Sanders was talking about earlier in the hearing.
And so one of our challenges will be how do we take the energy as we capture the photons from the sun that create electricity to transmission lines, the places where the electricity is actually needed, whether it's for the plug-in hybrid vehicles that we will see, or whether it's for the powering of our homes.
And because Department of Interior has about 20 percent of the landmass of the United States under its control, we will be a very active agent in making sure that those transmission capacities are made a possibility.
SEN. UDALL: You talked in your interactive remarks about water and water policy. You come with a deep experience in that area. I think we have the Colorado Compact in decent shape, but I'm certain you'll continue to pay attention to those important relationships in the Lower Basin and Upper Basin states. Would you care to comment on water policy in the Colorado Compact?
SEN. SALAZAR: You know, during my campaigns, Senator Udall, most of the people in the Denver metro area would say that I talk too much about water. So I could spend a lot of time talking about this issue. But the reality of it is that, you know, water is the lifeblood of the West.
And indeed, the conflicts and controversies that we've seen in the West on the Colorado River or any of the other rivers where we've -- you know, I've actually been involved in litigation on behalf of Colorado in the U.S. Supreme Court on several different occasions, and those kinds of conflicts are now spreading across the entire nation. So it is not just a Western issue.
Well, we have issues in the Southeastern part of the nation and other places. We will have to play a constructive role in helping resolve some of those issues. And part of it, as President-elect Obama has said in his papers, it involves how we manage very precious water resources and how we conserve the water resource, but also new management techniques that can be brought about to a place we have scarcity with respect to water.
That was one of the inventors or originators of the concept on interruptible supply contracts because of the fact that in our state about 85 percent of the water is used in agriculture. Some of those concepts are now being implemented via contracts between the owners of water rights and municipal water holders that require water supply on an ongoing basis 365 days a year.
And so, those kinds of management concepts are the ones that I will bring to the Bureau of Reclamation and to our efforts with respect to water.
SEN. UDALL: Those are 21st century water concepts, and you'll be a 21st century secretary of the Interior. It's great to see you.
SEN. SALAZAR: Thank you, Senator Udall.
SEN. BINGAMAN: Senator DeMint.
SEN. JIM DEMINT (R-SC): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Salazar, it will be tempting to call you Ken. So I apologize if that slips in. Maybe Senator Ken will do.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I enjoyed our meeting. And frankly, after the press reports I'd gotten on your positions on energy, I was afraid your position would be basically to cut off American energy supply. And after we talked, I felt like we were very much the same page of continuing to try to develop a reasonable balance between domestic energy production of all kinds and protect our environment on all fronts.
And as you know, those are not necessarily mutually exclusive. I did have the opportunity to actually tour in your state, Colorado Springs. A coal generation facility that had a model set up, that was taking about 80 percent of carbons out of the coal, on a limited scale. And now they're looking at -- to try to expand the scale.
So we know with the technologies we have, that this is very possible and maybe closer than we think. All of us would prefer not to burn coal if we had other alternatives. I was encouraged that you are supportive of nuclear generation. And I think we both look at some of this as a bridge to a future with more renewables not emitting energy sources in our country for our cars and electricity, which I appreciate.
And we also talked about offshore drilling which is controversial. I'm interested in the East Coast, particularly for natural gas and the possibilities there. You seem to be open to look for realistic solutions there that are friendly to the environment. So I very much appreciate that.
And I guess, Senator, if just instead of specific questions about particular energy sources -- I know you had a lot of questions today -- but perhaps just summarize in your mind how we as a Congress, as a country, can look at the importance of American energy supply from all fronts, and how we balance that with increasingly environmentally friendly life patterns here in this country.
I know you've talked about that extensively already, but since I'm a little late, I'd just ask if -- perhaps that you would talk a little bit more about that.
SEN. SALAZAR: Thank you very much, Senator DeMint. And you can always call me Ken. You know, Cardinal McCarrick here in Washington always calls most of the senators by their first names --
SEN. DEMINT: Yeah.
SEN. SALAZAR: -- Senator Ken. So you can call me Senator Ken --
SEN. DEMINT: Oh, good.
SEN. SALAZAR: -- or whatever you want. Let me just say that one of the great exciting things of these times are the fact that I think out of our limitations we also have great opportunities. And I think there are inescapable forces that drive us to this new energy future for America and for the world.
When you look at what we did with the new energy frontier in the '70s -- it was Richard Nixon that coined the word "energy independence." It was Jimmy Carter that in 1979 first funded the highest level that we've ever done with respect to alternative energies. And then after that, because of the low-cost oil, frankly, not much attention was paid to this new energy frontier.
I think the times are very different today, and it's really because of three very important inescapable forces that President- elect Obama and I very much understand and share.
First, national security. And we formed the Set America Free group that worked on a new energy bill here. It was Conservatives and Progressives, Republicans and Democrats coming together to an American agenda that understands that we can't be hostage to the whims of dictators from the Middle East or other places around the world; it's a national security issue.
Secondly, it is an environmental security issue as well. I think the debate about global warming is over, and we need to move forward with an agenda that addresses climate change, and that's why this energy imperative is so important.
And third, in these difficult economic times that our nation faces, we will -- we believe -- President-elect Obama and I do -- that part of what we will do for our economic renaissance here in America is take on a new energy economy because we know the kinds of jobs that can be created through this new energy role instead of transferring the huge amounts of wealth that today are transferred to places like Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East that have the reserves of oil.
We can have that money invested here in our country, which ultimately will be good to helping us stand up our economy again.
SEN. DEMINT: Thank you. And I look forward to working with you. One specific question -- I think it may have already been asked, but just want to ask for the record, related to individuals' rights to carry guns on federal property.
And you and I -- I believe I forgot to talk to you at all about that when we were in our office, but it's something that's come up on the committee before, and the department has come out with rulemaking that basically makes federal lands consistent with local laws as I understand it. But is -- there has been some talk of a new secretary might overturn that or challenge or there might be lawsuits against it.
And I would just like to have your opinion on what -- and I know in committee we were talking about this amendment which was eliminated from the lands bill, but you had some specific language that we adapted into the amendment, so we seemed to be on the same page. But is that still your opinion that the Americans' rights to carry arms, should it be extended to federal lands?
SEN. SALAZAR: You know, Senator DeMint, I grew up learning how to shoot a gun probably since I was three years old. I probably shouldn't have been doing it at that age, but started out very early. Had guns in my trucks and in my home sometimes alone because of where we lived. So that's a little far away -- frankly for self-protection.
So I have a healthy respect for guns, and I know how to use a gun. And I have a healthy respect for the second amendment and the rights that come with the second amendment. The president-elect has a healthy respect for the second amendment and with the recent articulation of the Supreme Court with respect to the second amendment as well.
The specific question that you raise with respect to concealed weapons in national parks is an issue that I will take a look at when I review the regulation. I have not had an opportunity to review the regulation that has been issued by the Department of Interior, but I will do that after I am sworn in and move forward at the appropriate time, making the common-sense decision.
SEN. DEMINT: Thank you, Senator.
I yield back.
SEN. BLANCHE L. LINCOLN (D-AR): Thank you, Senator DeMint.
The chairman had to move to the next --
SEN. : How fast you move up, Blanche Lincoln, in the world.
SEN. LINCOLN: -- to his next responsibility, and has asked me to sit in for him.
I want to say a very special thanks to our chairman of the Energy Committee and to our Ranking Member, Senator Murkowski, for giving us this opportunity today not only to visit with you publicly about so many different issues that are near and dear to all of our hearts, but also to say congratulations to you, our colleague, Senator Salazar. Thank you for all of the incredible blessings and hard work that you have brought to this body.
You've been a tremendous member of the Senate, and we are all grateful to you again, not for just the blessings of your hard work but the blessings of your friendship. And in this day and age, it is extremely meaningful, because as I think everyone knows, the blessing of your friendship has been spread across the aisles and all over the place in the United States Senate.
And we're all just very grateful to have been able to serve with you here, and are, without a doubt, looking forward to being able to work with you in your new capacity as secretary of the Interior. So we welcome you home to the committee, and are excited about the great opportunities that lie ahead in working together as you've always worked with us.
So we are very glad you are here and glad for this opportunity on -- for each of us, as I said, to be able to express our gratitude to you for all of the great things that you've brought to the Senate and to the country and will continue in this new capacity.
I am -- I know you know as secretary of the Interior you will be chairman of the Migratory Bird Commission. And I am a member of that along with my friend and neighbor, Senator Cochran. And so I know I'll also enjoy -- I'll get to actually see you every quarter unlike some of my colleagues who might not get to see you as often. So I'm looking forward to that.
We do great work with the Migratory Bird Commission. And it's good stuff across the country that we can talk about and people are always well pleased because those are dollars that are very well spent. And so we're excited about that.
Just a couple of questions from me today, and I wanted to -- I know you've talked about a multitude of different things, so I don't want to revisit the things you have talked about. I will add my voice to the Land and Water Conservation Fund advocacy. I've been a strong advocate for that fund. It provides matching grants to our states and obviously, local governments.
And it does a tremendous job in terms of its acquisition and development of public outdoor recreation areas and facilities. It does a tremendous amount in my home state of Arkansas, and so we want to continue to work with you. And certainly pleased with all of the comments here today of the broad support for the Land and Water Conservation.
Also renewable energy -- I know some of that's been spoken about. It is critically important, I think, for our nation in lessening our dependence on foreign oil and cleaning our environment. But it's also going to be an incredible tool for job creation in helping us to drive our economy, particularly in rural America. There is no one more excited about the possibilities of a new energy economy in this country than the people of rural America, and particularly those engaged in agriculture.
And so I know that there will be opportunities there. And I know you will have a vision of the opportunities that the Department of Interior will be able to -- the role that they will be able to play, and we look forward to that.
Just one thing on recreation and -- particularly recreational lakes. There are so many recreational sites across the country on lands of Bureau of Reclamation and the Army Corps of Engineers. However, the lakes that are located on this land are not always available for public enjoyment because of their agency's limited recreation missions and water management policies.
These challenges are very well documented in the 1999 report of the National Recreation Lakes Study Commission called "Reservoirs of Opportunity." The recommendations in the study were never fully implemented. I'd just like to bring that to your attention. I know you and I had spoken a great deal.
I come from a seventh generation Arkansas farm family. And I spent most every summer on my summer vacation, family vacation in a national park, in Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas. My dad was a farmer and couldn't leave the farm. Those were critical times during the summer months when we were out of school, and we spent time over there.
Now, those lakes are not actually on those federal -- are on federal lands. Ouachita is a federal lake, but it's managed by the Corps. But it's so critically important. There's so much recreational value here for Americans.
And during difficult economic times, it's an important place for people to be able to go and to have family time.
And so I hope that as we move forward, you know, that as we move -- one of the ways to expand our economy, you know, encourage and expand local economies is to really ensure that recreation is given a higher priority in the management of our federal lakes. As secretary of the Interior, I'm hoping that you will work to ensure that recreational benefits are enjoyed at federally managed and manmade lakes.
And I hope that you'll look at causes for any decreases in the recreational facilities in these lakes that certainly come under your jurisdiction with the Bureau of Reclamation. So I'm hoping there'll be some opportunities there that we can work together.
The other, endangered species, I'm not sure if it's been brought up, I didn't notice that it had been one of the key challenges for federal agencies in making a determination of potential impact of activities on endangered species is the inability to access species location data. And I hope that you could consider supporting the development of a centralized database for species location in related biological data for use by federal agencies.
We've tried this time and time again. Usually, we just give it a really crummy name and it doesn't sell, but the fact is that it's really good information, its good information to have. It's enormously beneficial to landowners and others who do want to be responsible in whether it is trying to preserve species that may be put on the endangered species list or those that have already been put there.
So our hope is, is that we can work together to see some of those things that are extremely productive and useful tools for everybody concerned, in trying to reach the same objective.
So I think other than that --- I know, in your opening statement I was very pleased to hear you mention about --- that unfortunately too many people mistakenly believe that the Department of Interior is just a Department of the West. Those of us in the middle of the country, and particularly in the South, don't want to hear that or don't want to believe that.
And we're glad to hear that you're going to embrace all of us across this great land with, again, the tools and the abilities that you have to reflect on what it is that we can do together in this great country, particularly through the Department of Interior.
So, I thank you for being there. If you want to comment on any of those couple things that I brought up, I'd be glad to hear, if not I know we can always visit it at another time.
SEN. SALAZAR: Senator Lincoln, if I may, just two points. First, I will miss your enthusiasm and your cheerfulness, but I also am looking forward to continuing to work with you on so many issues including the issues that you raise.
Secondly, I also want to just commend you as being one of the senators that really understands the importance of rural America and the forgotten America. As some of you have heard me give my speeches on the floor of the U.S. Senate, as we worked on the farm bill just this last year, there really are two Americas that we have that have a different reality and it all depends on how far you are away from those big, urban, centers.
I think we have 3,000 counties in the United States of America. There's about 1,700 of them that are classified as rural. Many of those have a vast population and even in the good times of the 1990s, well, the big cities were thriving and people were making a lot of money, the people in rural America were being forgotten.
And the income gaps of $10,000-plus between rural versus urban Americans is real, the health care disparities are real, the educational disparities are real, they are all real. And so I do believe that notwithstanding the fact that rural America, as I said, I think in my opening speech in the U.S. Senate some four years ago, had been a withering America, just because population had been making its exodus from those rural counties into the bigger cities, that the new technologies and rural broadband as well as the economic opportunities that were brought about by renewable energy are going to create a renaissance for rural America. And we have seen that across the country, in my state with the renewable portfolio standard in place.
The Eastern Plains, which basically were a forgotten part of the state of Colorado, have come back to life and we will see more and more of that as we embrace the renewable energy opportunities.
And I look forward, specifically as part of President-elect Obama's energy team, in helping craft the kinds of economic opportunities, as we pursue the renewable energy agenda, to make sure that some of that economic opportunity creates opportunity for those rural communities, so that it's not just a matter of siting facilities out in those rural communities and then having the energy being used in the bigger cities, but having the money essentially flow to Wall Street or to some other place.
So we have to make sure that we provide benefits to those rural communities, and I look forward to working with you on that agenda.
SEN. LINCOLN: Right. Thank you.
I believe it's Shaheen. Senator Shaheen?
SEN. JEANNE SHAHEEN (D-NH): Thank you, Senator Lincoln. I thought, perhaps when you took over the chair that the women senators were initiating a coup.
But then Senator Udall came back, and I realized that was not the case.
Congratulations, Senator Salazar, after listening to all of the wonderful tributes to you this morning, I'm especially saddened that I won't have the opportunity to serve with you in the Senate, but look forward to working with you as the secretary of the Interior.
I appreciated the comments that you have made throughout your testimony and the questioning this morning about the importance of moving to energy independence, about the importance of the new energy economy. And as you indicated in your testimony earlier, one significant challenge we have as we move to that new energy economy is dealing with our transmission issues.
We heard similar concerns expressed by Dr. Chu, the nominee to be secretary of the Department of Energy. And I just wondered if you could speak to thoughts you have about siting new transmission lines, about who should have --- if there should be one authority who you think should have oversight over siting of those transmission lines.
It was suggested by a panel last week that perhaps that responsibility should be located within the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission --- and how you might work with the Department of Energy on the challenges of building a new transmission system for this new energy economy.
SEN. SALAZAR: Thank you, Senator Shaheen, and thank you for your great service to the state of New Hampshire as governor and now to the country as a United States senator. The good fortune about my job is that our relationships are not ended, because I get to continue to work with you on issues that are important to our country.
I believe that the issue of transmission is an essential issue that needs to be addressed because otherwise what's going to end up happening is that we're going to have a lot of talk and no action on renewable energy. And we cannot let bureaucratic impediments or the balkanization of the federal government essentially stand in the way of results. This is a time for results; results matter.
And in that context, I have tremendous confidence in Secretary- designee Steven Chu, and that we will be able to work together to create a pathway that is an effective pathway that gets us to the results that we want, to deliver this new energy economy because if we don't do it, the nation fails, we fail, and failure here is not an option.
SEN. SHAHEEN: And do you want to address whether there should be any particular location for siting new transmission lines or for --- should there be one federal agency that has any additional responsibility for transmission?
SEN. SALAZAR: Yeah, we need to make sure that we're moving forward with creating the greater transmission capacity that will be needed and that will be something, which Dr. Chu and myself, as well as others will figure out together. So there's a critical role that the Department of Interior will play because of the fact that we manage 20 percent of the landmass of the United States of America.
And I know, for example, if we just take solar or geothermal, there are great opportunities there with respect to public lands, and how public lands are used for these renewable energy facilities, there's first the issue of siting and where they will go. We may have to revise processes to make sure that we don't end up in 10 years of process without getting to results.
This is an imperative agenda, because our environmental and economic and national security depend on our success on this agenda. With respect to how we will work out the exact jurisdictions between FERC and Interior and other agencies that may have a role in it, that's something that we'll have to do.
I -- I mean, my role with the president-elect is to be a special advisor to him on energy. My role is to run the Department of Interior, but as special advisor to him I will make sure that this is something that we will succeed in.
SEN. LINCOLN: Senator Udall, did you have any further questions?
SEN. UDALL: (Off mike) --- If Senator Murkowski doesn't have further comments, can I just have ---
SEN. LINCOLN: Senator Murkowski?
SEN. MURKOWSKI: I've ---
SEN. UDALL: Okay.
SEN. MURKOWSKI: --- got just a couple follow-up here, you know, listening to the range of questions, you know. I mentioned in my opening remarks your broad portfolio, but then you sit here and you listen to the members of the committee and everyone is coming at it from perhaps their interests, but it's everything from energy to more specific with OCS and oil shale, MMS, Indian Affairs, ESA, mining. We haven't discussed management of the territories, migratory birds --- it is just all over.
We haven't yet talked about the management of the Forest Service and the aspect of fires, and I want to just touch on that briefly, because it is something that I have had several conversations with secretaries of the Interior at parts of this summer when my state was up in smoke. And I'm sure that other members in the West have had real concerns and have had to weigh in.
Some of the frustration that we see is the --- we see the increased costs of federal firefighting, the impact that these costs have on other federal resource programs. And we've had many discussions in this committee, and I'm sure that you have been part of them, when we learned that essentially we're raiding other accounts to pay for the emergency situation that we have there. So it's something that I would hope that as you're looking at the administration's budget you can figure out the path forward here.
I'm not quite sure what the magic of it is, but recognizing that we do need to address this area --- coming out of Colorado, I know it's been an issue --- but it is something that we would like to see some resolve to.
In the state of Alaska, we have experienced years of devastation of areas of our forested lands due to the invasion of the spruce bark beetle. And I understand that in Colorado it's the mountain --- you call it the mountain bark beetle, I don't know if they're kin to one another or what the relationship is, but we know that they're destroying much of our forests.
I don't know what specifically the Department of Interior is doing now to respond more quickly and efficiently to challenge the outbreak's cause, but that is something that we would like to be working with you on again, recognizing that when these insects come through and kill these trees, they then lay on the forest floor and they're nothing but tinder for the next lightning strike that comes along that can cause an incredible forest fire. And then we deal with the cause as I just mentioned.
I'm not giving you a chance to answer, because I want to get through my, just, quick mentions. Last one is, we were blessed a couple weeks ago to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our statehood, January 3rd. It was a big deal to be able to say we're 50 years as part of the Union.
But when we joined the Union, there were certain promises from the federal government as they related to our lands. They said, you'll get lands conveyed to you as a state, Alaska natives have also had that promise, that commitment made that lands would be conveyed to them.
When I came to the Senate, I asked for a status from the Bureau of Land Management, from Interior, where are we on our conveyance of lands, and at that time it was an abysmal situation. They said, well, we're kind of working on it. But it was nobody's priority.
We were able to pass into law the land conveyance act to expedite those conveyances. And the promise made within that legislation four years ago, was that the conveyances would be complete by the time we celebrated the 50th anniversary of statehood. Well, that was a couple weeks ago; still about 35 million acres of land that must be transferred.
I'm asking for your commitment, Senator Salazar, as you move into this position in Interior, to work with us, to complete these transfers that were promised to Alaska on statehood. Much of it is a budgetary issue, a staffing issue, making sure that those surveys are complete. But it is something that I would hope that we would be able to work with you aggressively on to complete this commitment.
SEN. SALAZAR: Senator Murkowski, on both the issues you raise, I know the importance on them on the fire issue and the budgets of both, the Forest Service and USDA as well as BLM understand the criticality of dealing with the epidemic that we see with the bark beetle or the spruce beetle, in multiple states and I'm frankly --- I think when I first started talking about the bark beetle, people thought it was a beetle that barked, four years ago.
I think there is greater understanding that Congressman Udall brought in the House, and we brought over here, and we know that it's an issue that is a multi-state issue, and to Wyoming and Idaho and to Alaska of course. And so we need to work on it, and we'll work on it. We will take a look at where we are on the implementation of the conveyance of lands Act and we'll get back to you on that.
And finally, I guess I would say, just use this opportunity to say that even as we look at the issue of budgets with respect to firefighting, there are some realities that are going to hit this committee, the members of the Congress, the president-elect, and all of us, and that is that we're in some very tough economic times.
And we can have great dreams and great aspirations as I do, as I look forward to the challenge that we have, but there is going to be some reality that we're going to have to deal with, relative to how we fund much of these programs that we are facing and it will not be easy. But I think that times we are in require the kind of resolve and determination and the can-do attitude that we can figure out ways of addressing these high-priority issues for our nation.
SEN. MURKOWSKI: Well, I appreciate your comment. To that, I think we all recognize that it is difficult and we're dealing with difficult issues already, but I think when you've got good leadership and a sense of pragmatism we can make good things happen.
I look forward to doing that.
I would be remiss as the ranking member of Indian Affairs, if I did not reiterate my chairman, Senator Dorgan's comment, about the responsibility to our first people, to American Indians, Alaska natives, native Hawaiians, his plea to you to fix the BIA. And I think I got that commitment that you in fact were going to do that, so thank you, we'll be working with you on that.
But as you know, the trust, responsibility, that we have to American Indians, to Alaska natives, I think we have failed in many aspects of that, and would hope that that would be one of the areas that you would be rigorous and really try to make positive steps.
And with that, Madame Chair, I do have more questions that I would like to have submitted for the record. I know Senator Barrasso had some. I'm sure that other members of the committee will have them as well. I understand that we've got some time before our business meeting for you to complete these so you don't have to stay up all night responding to them.
But again, I thank you for your willingness to serve our president-elect in this new administration, and thank you for what you have done for the people of Colorado and for this country. Thanks.
SEN. SALAZAR: Thank you.
SEN. LINCOLN: Well ---
SEN. MURKOWSKI: I'm told that Senator Barrasso's on his way. Should we give him a second?
SEN. LINCOLN: We'll give him a second. I would just say that I think I have the second-cousin-once-removed of your beetle, the red oak borer over at Arkansas (laughs.)
SEN. MURKOWSKI: (Off mike) --- We don't want him.
SEN. LINCOLN: So I'm pleased that you brought that up. Those are important issues for us as well, even though we don't have as large a forest or territories, lots of times, as the Western states do.
I will say, Senator Salazar, that I have two young men in Arkansas who are ready to take you on a canoe trip down the Buffalo National River --- the Buffalo National Park River, and are excited about --- I know you've had many invitations to come visit a lot of different places, with the beautiful national parks that exist across this land, but without a doubt there's two young men, with the last name "Lincoln" that are ready to take you on a canoe trip down the Buffalo River. (Laughs.) They talked about it last night as a matter of fact. (Laughs.)
MS. : (Off mike) --- Maybe, we should just have him submit ---
SEN. LINCOLN: I think he could if it didn't matter. If there's not any objection to ---
MR. : (Off mike) --- He'll be back.
SEN. LINCOLN: If there's --- without any objections, members will have until 5:00 this evening to submit additional questions for the record and --- (off mike) --- I would say that this is okay ---
MS. : (Off mike) --- Did we hear how far it is ---
SEN. LINCOLN: Let me see.
MS. : Okay, well ---
SEN. LINCOLN: Is that okay?
MS. : Submit him for the record.
SEN. LINCOLN: Okay. The committee ---
SEN. SALAZAR: Miss --- Madame Chairwoman, may --- I guess I do this in court all the time --- may I approach the bench, just for one second?
SEN. LINCOLN: Absolutely. (Laughs.) I don't know ---
MS. : And Barrasso's back.
SEN. LINCOLN: Okay. Senator Barrasso, did you have some further questions?
SEN. BARRASSO: Thank you very much, Madame Chairwoman, I do.
SEN. LINCOLN: We did make sure that you do have until 5:00 this evening to submit any additional questions that you might have.
SEN. BARRASSO: Thank you very much.
Thank you, again, Senator Salazar. Couple of issues very important to us in Wyoming, in the Rocky Mountain West, and if I could ask about snowmobiles in Yellowstone and Grand Teton parks, the --- 1872 when we had the first national park, Yellowstone Park, they said it was for the enjoyment of the --- for the use and enjoyment of the people, when legislation was initially passed.
Could you talk a little bit about the support for snowmobile access to the parks --- there's been a lot of back-and-forth in terms of how many snowmobiles, if snowmobiles could be used in the park --- and how will you direct the National Park Service to handle this issue of snowmobiles in the national parks?
SEN. SALAZAR: Senator Barrasso, I appreciate the question and I remember the heartfelt depositions of Senator Craig before you and you and others. This is a complex and difficult issue, and today in this hearing, what I can assure you is that it's an issue that we will take a look at. I don't have an answer for you. I haven't looked at the current status of it, but we will look at it and we'll get back to you.
SEN. BARRASSO: I would agree with Senator Udall in his earlier comments and associate myself with those about the Colorado River compact. I remember your strong statements about the need for Wyoming and Colorado and upper river areas, and I know you were very vocal in the past when anyone has tried to move some of that water south and west. So I appreciate the comments there and ---
SEN. SALAZAR: Don't they say in the West, you can steal my wife, but don't steal my water?
SEN. SALAZAR: I don't say that.
SEN. BARRASSO: No, no, you would never.
SEN. SALAZAR: You can steal neither my wife nor my water.
SEN. BARRASSO: Thank you, and I'm going to ask you a little bit about public land and ranching and we talked yesterday at prayer breakfast of your love of the land, respect of the land, how very important it is to you and your heritage and your family. Public land ranching is a very important part of Wyoming's economy and part of our local communities.
Half of the land in the state of Wyoming is public land, I mean, a lot of that's used for grazing, for grazing allotments, where ranches have a combination of public land and their own private land, for a large number of these ranches.
The concern that I have, when it comes to --- anytime a rancher wants to sell his private land, the developers are ready to take that immediately. But you and I both know the value of the incredible landscapes and the desire to try to conserve this area. So could you talk a little bit about conservation of entire landscapes and how would you then direct your agencies to handle resource conflicts that involve people who have permits to graze on the public land?
SEN. SALAZAR: Senator Barrasso, let me say, first, I think we need to find balance.
You know I was involved some in the grazing regulation disputes back in the 1990s and the last thing that we want to do is to drive ranchers, some of whom have been using these lands for five, six, generations, essentially off the lands and into bankruptcy.
At the same time we need to make sure that we're protecting the ecosystems that are so essential, that are important to Wyoming and Colorado and everywhere else where we have these kinds of grazing opportunity. So we will seek to have the right kind of balance that supports our ranching communities and our ranchers and at the same time protects the environment.
SEN. BARRASSO: Wanted to move on to federal mineral royalties. As you know, the Bush administration, as well as the Democrat Congress, the federal government took 2 percent of the state's federal mineral royalties; that impacted Colorado, it impacted Wyoming. And you and I cosponsored Senate 2602 in the last session of Congress, to try to reverse this policy that you and I both agreed was an unsound policy. I was curious if the Obama administration supported our legislation.
SEN. SALAZAR: Senator Barrasso, I do not know that they've gotten that specific and I think there are lots of pieces of legislation that they obviously have not looked at. You know my own history with respect to that particular issue, and you know, I think the 50/50 split that was there before is one that makes sense.
We know this is an issue which probably will arise again, but as I will remind you and members of the committee, it was part of what came out of the Bush budget that moved it to a 51/49 split. And hopefully, as we try to address the budgetary crisis that we're in, we'll be able to correct what I think was a wrong move.
We haven't gotten to the point where any of us have been sworn in, have not gone to the point where we're dealing with budgets and trying to make the budget balance, but it is an issue that is on my radar screen.
SEN. BARRASSO: And then the final has to do with another bill that you and I cosponsored, it had to do with Good Neighbor Authority in terms of the Forest Service. The bill that we had cosponsored would allow the Forest Service and BLM to cooperate with the state foresters to put more boots on the ground in terms of cleaning up the forests and the issues that you and I have discussed prior to his hearing. I guess, my question is, how can we continue to promote this tool, which I think is very important for our states and for our forests?
SEN. SALAZAR: I think it's a great concept, and I think it's something that at the end of the day is about collaboration and cooperating with your neighbors. And I think those are the kinds of things on collaboration that we will be pursuing as we deal with issues like fires as well as a whole host of other things, you know.
If we look at the bark beetle problem, you know, the bark beetle problem doesn't stop at the federal jurisdictional line; it goes over into private property. And so how we put together the kinds of good neighbor policies that you and I had talked about in the past is something which we will try to do within Interior.
SEN. BARRASSO: Because BLM still hadn't taken a position on it; they say it's tied up in the solicitor's office. So I was hoping that you'd continue to keep an eye on that to make sure we can move that along in a swift way.
SEN. SALAZAR: Let me say it will very much be on my radar screen when I get to the Department of Interior.
SEN. BARRASSO: Thank you very much.
Thank you, Madame Chairwoman.
SEN. LINCOLN: If there aren't any other questions, hearing's adjourned.