President Obama's fiscal year 2013 budget request of $11.5 billion for the Department of the Interior reflects fiscal discipline, identifying offsetting program reductions to maintain funding for core missions and strategic investments in America's Great Outdoors; energy development and reforms; innovation to help sustain economic recovery and generate jobs; and promotion of economic development for American Indians and Alaska Natives.
"As our Nation's economy continues to gain strength, we must make tough budget choices and strategic investments to maintain strong support for stewardship of the Nation's natural and cultural resources and continue to advance improvements for Indians," Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said in announcing the Administration's budget. "The President's proposal takes a thoughtful approach, one that allows Interior to achieve our critical missions and to do our part in maintaining a disciplined and responsible budget."
"Interior's work remains vital to powering our Nation's sustained economic growth," Salazar added. "We are helping to build a comprehensive domestic energy economy -- creating American jobs and driving innovation. We are ushering in a new era of conservation to protect the lands, water and wildlife that power local economies, drive tourism, and define us as a people. And we are empowering our Nation's First Americans by helping to build stronger, safer and more prosperous tribal communities."
Interior's programs and activities support more than 2 million American jobs and annually contribute about $363 billion to the nation's economic activity, according to a 2011 Departmental study. Of this amount, the Department estimates that conventional and renewable energy produced on Interior-managed public lands and offshore areas resulted in $246 billion in economic activity; water supply, forage and timber activities, primarily on public lands in the West, contributed $48 billion in economic activity; and parks, refuges, and monuments contributed more than $44 billion in economic activity from recreation and tourism.
Funding: The 2013 budget proposal includes $10.5 billion for Interior programs funded by the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriation and $1 billion for the Bureau of Reclamation, funded in the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act. The proposal is roughly level with the 2012 enacted budget of $11.43 billion.
Interior programs will continue to generate revenue on behalf of the American people in 2013, collecting an estimated $13.9 billion in royalties, rents, bonuses and fees. These receipts are either deposited in the U.S. Treasury, shared with state and local governments, or used to fund natural resource development and conservation programs. In 2011, Interior collected $13.2 billion in revenues.
Reductions, Consolidations: The 2013 budget eliminates or reduces lower priority programs, defers project start-ups, shifts costs to others who have the ability to pay, restructures operations, and captures administrative and efficiency savings. Terminations and reductions proposed in the budget result in total reductions of $516.8 million as compared to the 2012 enacted level. The budget continues the third year of efficiencies to achieve the Administration's savings target of $207 million by the end of 2013, using 2010 as the baseline for comparison. Department-wide, construction is cut by $49 million or 16 percent below 2012 to $256 million, focusing funding on the highest priority health and safety and mission critical projects.
Mandatory Legislation, Offsetting Revenues: The 2013 budget request incorporates legislative proposals and increased offsetting collections that are estimated to save a net of $2.5 billion over the next ten years. Major savings proposals include the following: reforming the Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation program to focus available coal fees on the most dangerous coal mine sites, as well as a parallel AML program for abandoned hardrock sites financed by an AML fee on the production of hardrock minerals on both public and private lands; instituting a leasing program under the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 for certain hardrock minerals to collect a fair-return for the American taxpayer in rental payments and royalty fees; instituting fees for non-producing oil and gas leases to encourage development of our Nation's domestic energy resources; repealing geothermal revenue sharing payments to counties; instituting permanent net receipts sharing for energy minerals; repealing outdated royalty relief provisions for offshore drilling; and increasing onshore and offshore oil and gas inspection fees to require industry to cover more of the costs of overseeing their operations.
Several proposals that are generally revenue-neutral will have significant conservation benefits, such as increasing the price of Duck Stamps, a program that conserves millions of acres of wetland habitat for the National Wildlife Refuge System; and reauthorizing the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act, which reinvests land sale proceeds into high-priority land acquisitions for conservation purposes. The budget also calls for enactment of legislation to extend the Payments in Lieu of Taxes program, set to expire in FY 2012, for another year, providing an estimated $398 million to help counties that have nontaxable Federal lands within their boundaries,
Strategic Investments: Major investments aimed at sustaining economic recovery and generating jobs include increases in New Energy Frontier programs of $76 million or 11 percent, bringing total funding for conventional and renewable programs to $749 million; Wildland Fire Management is increased by $243 million or 42 percent, to $818 million; Land and Water Conservation Funding is proposed at $322 million, an increase of $93 million or 39 percent above 2012; and WaterSMART conservation and efficiency programs are increased $20 million or 36 percent to $75 million. Major grant programs across the bureaus would be funded at $290 million, an increase of $32 million or 12 percent above 2012.
A New Energy Frontier
The 2013 budget continues Interior's New Energy Frontier initiative to create jobs and achieve greater energy independence. The Administration's blueprint for energy security focuses on safely and responsibly developing our domestic energy resources, including both conventional and renewable resources. The Department of the Interior plays an important role by providing opportunities for safe and responsible development on public lands and on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf.
As a result of its ongoing, unprecedented approach to reviewing proposals for renewable energy projects on public lands, Interior is on track to meet a priority performance goal to approve 10,000 megawatts by the end of calendar year 2012 and 11,000 megawatts by the end of 2013. Since 2009, Interior has approved 29 projects, or the transmission associated with them, including 16 utility-scale solar projects -- the first ever on public lands; five wind projects; and eight geothermal projects. In total, these projects are expected to create about 12,500 construction, operation and maintenance jobs, and produce nearly 6,500 megawatts of energy, enough to power about 1.3 million American homes.
The budget requests $86 million for renewable energy programs in 2013, an increase of $15 million or 21 percent above the 2012 level; and $662 million for conventional onshore and offshore energy programs, up $60 million or 10 percent over 2012.
To encourage safe, responsible oil and gas development, the budget proposes significant investments to strengthen and maintain capabilities in environmental analysis, drilling inspection and oversight, research on deepwater well integrity, offshore safety systems and oil spill response, as well as to support the new National Offshore Training and Learning Center. The 2013 budget request of $222 million for the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement is an increase of $25 million or 13 percent above 2012. The request of $164 million for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is $3.3 million or 2 percent above the 2012 level and includes increases for planned renewable energy lease auctions and high priority environmental studies.
America's Great Outdoors
The 2013 budget recognizes America's Great Outdoors (AGO) is vital to the nation's economy, competitiveness, and health. Through President Obama's AGO initiative, Interior is playing a leading role in restoring and protecting the health, heritage, natural resources, social and economic value of the Nation's most significant ecosystems, including increasing the public's access to these areas for outdoor recreation and enjoyment.
The 2013 budget calls for a $5.1 billion investment in AGO programs, an increase of $146 million or 3 percent above the 2012 enacted level.
The Administration's total request for Land and Water Conservation Fund programs, including Interior and Forest Service components, is $450 million, $105 million or 30 percent above 2012. The LWCF is funded each year from oil and gas development revenue and is dedicated to conservation grant programs and land acquisition. LWCF grants to States are increased by $15 million or 34 percent to $60 million.
Included in Interior's $5.1 billion for AGO is $332 million for LWCF-funded programs, an increase of $115 million or 53 percent above 2012. This funding includes $212 million for DOI Federal land acquisition, $65 million above 2012.
The 2013 budget reflects an innovative approach to conservation that better aligns priorities across Interior's bureaus and the Federal estate to enable more impactful investments at a landscape-level. Total funding for Federal land acquisition within Interior and the Forest Service is $270 million. Of this amount, $161 million (60 percent) is focused on meeting bureau-specific needs within both agencies, including $128 million for BLM, FWS, and NPS mission-specific core land acquisition priority projects. The Administration proposes targeting the remaining $109 million (40 percent) for a Forest Service-Interior Collaborative Landscape component that aligns both agencies' land acquisition efforts to support community-driven conservation goals in key landscapes: the Crown of the Continent in the intermountain West and Longleaf Pine in the Southeast. Interior requests $84 million for its three bureaus and the Forest Service requests the remaining $25 million. The proposed Federal investments in these landscapes build on locally led conservation efforts, and will leverage significant private commitments to land and water conservation in these landscapes. Smart investment in strategic conservation in these areas will prevent further ecosystem decline, which is expected to reduce or preclude the need for future investments in restoration.
The 2013 budget request for land acquisition also includes $2.5 million for BLM to improve access to public lands often frustrated by complicated land ownership patterns, by purchasing fishing and hunting access easements. An additional $5 million is requested in the NPS land acquisition program to acquire threatened or vulnerable land within national park units to protect significant Civil War battlefield sites that will commemorate the sesquicentennial of the war. To leverage these efforts to protect battlefields, the NPS budget also includes $9 million for the American Battlefield Protection program, which provides matching grants to States and local governments for protection of battlefield sites.
As part of the AGO initiative, the 2013 budget requests $4.6 billion for core operations in the land management bureaus -- National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Land Management. This is $26 million or less than 1 percent above 2012. This includes operations and maintenance of 397 units in the National Park Service, 556 national wildlife refuges managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service, and BLM's 37 national conservation areas, national monuments, and similarly designated areas. The areas managed by these bureaus hosted 386 million visitors. In 2010, travelers to these lands contributed an estimated $47.9 billion in economic activity and 388,000 jobs.
The AGO initiative funds important partnership efforts including $60 million for NPS State Assistance grants of which $20 million is a competitive program that will focus on larger scale urban landscape and collaborative conservation projects; $60 million for Cooperative Endangered Species Act grants for recovery and protection of at-risk species; $61 million in State and Tribal Wildlife grants; and continued funding at $56 million for historic preservation grants to States, Tribes, and territories; among other programs.
The 2013 budget also calls for a robust program in ecosystems restoration, continuing funding for these large-scale projects at the 2012 enacted level of about $500 million. The budget request includes an increase in Research & Development programs of $16 million for the U.S. Geological Survey to address ecosystem priorities in the Chesapeake Bay, Columbia River, Everglades, Great Lakes, Upper Mississippi, Puget Sound and California Bay Delta among others. This is part of a Department-wide R&D increase focused on land and resource challenges and hazard preparedness.
Interior will also participate with other land management agencies in a program that will put thousands of veterans to work on projects that will conserve and restore natural and cultural resources, strengthen visitor services, and maintain and improve infrastructure on Federal, State, Tribal and local public lands. The $1 billion program is proposed over 5 years through the Department of Veterans Affairs, which will coordinate the effort.
Strengthening Tribal Nations
To honor Interior's trust responsibilities, promote self-determination and strengthen Tribal Nations, the 2013 budget for Indian programs maintains essentially level funding at $2.5 billion, a slight decrease of about $5 million from the 2012 level. Program operations are funded at $2.4 billion, an increase of $12 million above 2012. The proposal includes $228 million for Contract Support Costs, an increase of $9 million over 2012. This support enables Tribes operating BIA-funded programs to meet administrative costs without decreasing program funds. Other increases include $8 million for Trust Natural Resource Programs and $7 million for Trust Real Estate Services to assist Tribes in managing, developing and protecting trust land and natural resources.
The budget also includes $10 million to support additional police and corrections staff to help build safe Indian communities. This includes funding to expand a community-policing pilot program to reduce violent crimes. The initial program on four reservations resulted in a combined reduction in violent crime of 35 percent, greatly exceeding goals and expectations.
The 2013 budget assumes reductions of $20 million from streamlining consolidations, which will improve efficiency and reduce costs, and $14 million in administrative savings from management efficiencies, improved fleet management and travel reductions. Other reductions include construction - down $18 million or 14 percent to $106 million - and the guaranteed loan program, $2 million lower at $5 million.
Science for Land and Water Management
Interior will continue to make investments in science, research, and development to inform land and water management decisions, including increases for carbon sequestration research, to develop its Climate Science Centers and to conduct a comprehensive assessment of water availability and use. The results of this water census -- the first in 30 years -- will be made available for water managers to improve sustainable use.
The proposed 2013 budget for the U.S. Geological Survey calls for $1.1 billion, a $34 million or 3 percent increase over the 2012 level. To support the Cooperative Landscape Conservation initiative, the budget includes an increase of $7 million for science support for Interior bureaus and funds carbon sequestration research at $9 million, a slight increase above 2012. At $26 million, the budget funds the Climate Science Centers, which are a national network of eight centers that serve as hubs to provide land managers at federal, state, tribal and local levels with access to the best available science on landscape-level change.
To help address the nation's water challenges, the proposal calls for $21 million for USGS WaterSMART priorities, including establishing a national groundwater monitoring network ($13 million), assessing how water quality influences water availability, and continuing water availability assessments in the Colorado River Basin, the Delaware River Basin and the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint Basin.
A $17 million increase will support research on ecosystems, including the Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay, California Bay-Delta, Klamath Basin and the Everglades. A $10 million increase will support disaster response by improving natural hazards information, such as earthquakes, floods and hurricanes. A $13 million increase will fund USGS to work with the Department of Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency on an interagency research and development initiative aimed at understanding and minimizing potential environmental, health, and safety impacts of shale gas development and production through hydraulic fracturing.
The Landsat Earth Imaging mission, which gathers satellite data about the Earth's surface, is vital to agricultural, water management, disaster response, scientific, and national security users. It is funded at $53 million to complete the Landsat 8 ground system. Interior will work with stakeholders to examine alternatives to provide land remote sensing data in a cost-effective manner in the future.
Tackling America's Water Challenges
The 2013 budget for the Bureau of Reclamation is $1.0 billion, a reduction of $14 million from the 2012 enacted level. Water and related resources programs are funded at $819 million, a decrease of $76 million from 2012. The proposal includes $70 million for rural water projects; $19 million for the Klamath project; and $2 million for a pilot project to increase renewable power generation at Reclamation facilities. The budget would establish separate accounts for Indian Water Rights Settlements ($47 million) that will help deliver clean drinking water to Indian communities and provide certainty to water users across the West. The budget proposes to fund San Joaquin River restoration at $12 million.
The 2013 budget for Reclamation includes $54 million for WaterSMART, $7 million above 2012. The initiative integrates and coordinates water sustainability efforts of Interior and its Federal, State, tribal and private partners, bringing together partners from entire river basins to work collaboratively and coordinating science and sustainable resource conservation activities to improve water conservation and energy efficiency. Additionally, the budget places the Central Utah Project Completion Act within Reclamation, with a 2013 budget proposal of $21 million, a decrease of $8 million from 2012.
Employing, Educating and Engaging America's Youth
As part of the AGO initiative, the 2013 budget proposes to engage Youth in the Great Outdoors by employing, educating and engaging young people from all backgrounds in exploring, connecting with, and preserving America's natural and cultural heritage. This initiative advances Interior's goal of hiring or temporarily engaging individuals aged 18 to 25 in the Department's programs and activities. In 2011, Interior's bureaus and offices employed a total of 20,064 youth and young adults, increasing youth employment by 24 percent over the Department's 2009 baseline. The 2013 budget includes $35 million for youth programs, about $2 million or 6 percent below 2012. The Department remains committed through a high priority goal to continue youth employment at levels comparable to 2012.
The Budget is online: www.doi.gov/budget and www.doi.gov/budget/2013/13Hilites/toc.html