Chaired By: Rep. Norman D. Dicks
Witness: Ken Salazar, Secretary Of The Interior
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REP. NORMAN D. DICKS (D-WA): Welcome everyone and thank you for being here today. It is my honor to welcome the 50th secretary of the Department of the Interior, and former senator from Colorado, Ken Salazar. Secretary Salazar has many challenges and many opportunities ahead of him. And I look forward to working with him as the new administration leads this nation in a new direction.
The Department of Interior manages 20 percent of the land mass of the United States, and 1.7 billion acres of the outer Continental Shelf. The department is also responsible for the trust relationship between the United States and Native Americans. DOI is the manager of over 56 million acres of land held in trust for Native Americans and tribes.
This committee has over the past two and a half years worked hard to preserve, protect and support our natural resources and public lands. Each year, we have increased funding for the operation and maintenance of the parks and wildlife refuges. We have increased funding for the department's efforts in adaptation and mitigation of climate change. In fact, it was this committee that initiated the National Global Warming and Wildlife Science Center in the U.S. Geological Survey.
And we have supported increased funding for law enforcement efforts on Indian land. All of this was initiated here by this congressional committee despite the dismal budget requests we received from the previous administration. So it is with great pleasure that I note that the Fiscal Year 2010 budget for the Department of Interior represents a remarkable shift in priorities from recent budget requests. The 2010 budget totals slightly more than $11 billion, which represents an 8.9 percent increase over the 2009 enacted level.
This budget has a number of important components including: fully funds -- it fully funds fixed costs for all your agencies; provides funding for the Climate Change, Science Adaptation and Mitigation; increases funding for both traditional and renewable energy production; continues restoring the commitments we have made to the education and safety of Native Americans; moving towards fully funding the wild fish -- the Land and Water Conservation Fund; funds important programs for public lands, wildlife refuges and parks, including significant increases for operation; and programs to promote youth participation in outdoor activities.
By the way, I applaud the 21st Century Youth Conservation Corps initiative. I think this is a great idea and one that we will be supporting. Our committee had Richard Louv, author of "The Last Child in the Woods" testify last year; and we found his testimony to be very revealing. And that we have to have initiatives in all of our departments to get more people and more children out into the woods. Provides for a matching grant program for signature projects and programs in our national parks.
There are many details in this request that we will no doubt take a careful look at -- at each of the initiatives and funding increases. There are some other issues that we will discuss today that have been of concern to the members of this subcommittee. The problems associated with the Minerals Management Service, and the recent findings from the Office of Inspector General and Government Accountability Office must be addressed to assure the American people that we are receiving fair value for their resources.
There are also challenges associated with endangered species management, implementation of renewable energy policies, wild land fire management, and protection of our national monuments. The discussion of these issues will no doubt extend beyond our hearing today. In summary, the Department of Interior programs have been challenged over the last years; and I'm glad to see a reverse in approach and an increase in funding. Though we're still not back to where we would have been had we received a reasonable amount of funding previously.
I want to now call on Mr. Simpson from Idaho, who is our ranking Republican member. And we are trying to work on this committee on a very bipartisan basis. And we think these issues deserve bipartisan support.
REP. MICHAEL K. SIMPSON (R-ID): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you for bringing up the previous administration one more time.
REP. DICKS: Next year, it will be on.
REP. SIMPSON: I assume we're talking about the Roosevelt administration.
REP. DICKS: We just wanted you to remember how great it is to have -- (inaudible).
REP. SIMPSON: I appreciate that.
Mr. Secretary, I'd like to join Chairman Dicks in welcoming you back to the Hill today. We appreciate the benefit of your views on the Fiscal Year 2010 budget request; and believe that you will find that we're a pretty reasonable audience. In fact, Chairman Dicks often refers to our subcommittee as The Fun Bunch. We'll see if we can live up to that reputation today.
I hope to cover a lot of ground with you today. It is apparent from your short time in office that you set an ambitious agenda for the department. I admire that and believe that you're setting an early tone that is balanced and reasonable. I've always thought there is something wrong when people are pleased with every decision that you make. When you tick off people on all sides on a number of issues; that's usually a sign that you're doing a pretty good job.
It's very clear that one of the most important roles the Department of Interior will play in the coming years relates to securing our energy future. I remember shortly after the president nominated you to be secretary, you made a comment that you wanted to take the moon shot at achieving America -- America's energy independence. I agree with you that it can be done, and look forward to hearing your views on how we can get there.
I don't think anyone in this room will disagree that our country today remains overly-dependent on foreign sources of oil. That we can lessen this dependency by pursuing a variety of energy sources, both onshore and offshore here at home. Taken together renewables like wind, solar and hydropower along with clean coal, and both onshore and offshore supplies of oil and gas can move us down this road. There is no reason why we can't balance what's in the best interests for our energy-dependent country with what's in the best interests of our natural environment.
Mr. Secretary, I would be remiss if I didn't compliment you on the fine professional staff that serves you across the various bureaus of the department. I especially want to commend Pam Haze that's with you today for her incredible work. I don't think she ever sleeps. She's a credit to you, the department and all federal employees; and all of us thank Pam for her service.
In closing, I hope later in the year you might consider visiting some of the most beautiful country that God ever created; and I know we might have a discussion of whether that's Colorado or Idaho. But of course, I'm talking about my home state of Idaho. And if you'd like to hike in the Boulder-White Clouds or take a boat trip down the Snake River or down the River of No Return -- nothing personal there, that's what they call it. But that's what they call it. I'd love to have you come out any time and spend some time in Idaho.
With that, Mr. Chairman, I thank you and yield back.
REP. DICKS: I recognize Mr. Lewis the ranking Republican member of the full committee; and a person who takes a great interest in our work for an opening statement if he would like to make one.
REP. JERRY LEWIS (R-CA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I would just like to welcome the secretary and -- (off mike).
REP. DICKS: Okay, all right. Mr. Secretary, we'll put your entire statement in the record; and it's a very good statement. I had a chance to review it. And we'll let you go ahead and proceed as you wish. And then, we'll have some questions.
SEC. SALAZAR: Thank you very much Chairman Dicks; and ranking member Simpson, thank you for your leadership of this committee. And thank you to the members of this committee both on the Democratic and the Republican side. This committee does have a reputation of being a problem-solving committee, of working together and looking beyond the horizons. And it is through your leadership that I inherited at the Department of Interior many of the initiatives that we will continue to build on; and do it in a fashion that makes our country stronger than it is, and preserves our country for future generations.
I also want to say thank you to your stellar staff. This is one incredible staff in the Appropriations Committee. Pam Haze and I very much have enjoyed working with the staff not only on the Economic Recovery Program, but also with respect to what we're doing here on the budget. And I also will join -- I know this committee's feelings because Congressman Dicks and Congressman Simpson have said this to me many times that Pam Haze walks on water. She is an extraordinary budget director; and we're very pleased to have her.
REP. DICKS: And late at night too. That's the other part.
SEC. SALAZAR: She doesn't sleep. She's always going, she's an Energizer bunny.
Let me say that since this is the first time that I appear before the Appropriations Committee, I want to just quickly give you a frame on which I am working on, in terms of my priorities. They are reflected in this budget, reflected in some decisions that I have made. And I want to just go through them very quickly. There are five.
The first is creating a new energy frontier and tackling the challenges of climate change. We have done a lot of work in that arena in the first 100 days. There is a lot more to come. And I will mention those -- some of those initiatives in just a few seconds.
Second, I want to work with this committee, with the entire Congress and with the president in moving forward with a treasured landscapes agenda for the 21st century. We have a good beginning in this budget. But there is obviously a lot more that we're going to have to do there as we look at our growing population, our diminishing habitats, and many of the challenges that we face there.
Third, I want to usher in the 21st Civilian Conservation Corps where we bring in tens of thousands of young people to work in our public lands and with our partners across America. I appreciate the comments from several of you. Chairman Dicks, your great support for this program and other members of the Congress.
Fourth, I want to help fix America's water problems. There are health issues that we face. Historically, we used to think about them as issues of the West. Now, we see in places like Alabama and Georgia and Florida where we're having some very difficult issues working with the governors down there to try to address some of the issues that they face. Fifth, and as importantly as number one, and that is, we have to have a robust agenda to empower our Native American communities; and to address the tough issues of law enforcement, education and economic opportunity.
So in those five areas, energy and climate change, the 21st century treasured landscapes, 21st Century Civilian Conservation Corps, water issues and empowering our Native American communities, I hope to work with all of you as we move forward on what will be a very robust agenda; in what could be four years, or perhaps eight years ahead. But I believe that together we can make a fundamental difference for the future of our country.
Two major highlights of things that have already happened that I would just like to thank the committee for their work on. The first is the Economic Recovery Act -- you had Interior on your mind. And we appreciate the investments that were made, including the money that went to the National Parks direct, other investments that we made through that $3 billion appropriation that went into the Department of Interior. Some of which was under the jurisdiction of this committee, some of which was under the jurisdiction of other committees.
Second, the Lands Bill, which was passed after long delays, is something that I am very proud of. President Obama signed that in the White House and many of you were there present. And it was truly one of those times when you had a bipartisan feeling here in Washington, D.C. where Democrats and Republicans had come together to do something that will be cherished by future generations to come. So I thank you for your work in that effort. And I think that those are achievements already in our early days here.
Moving forward to the 2010 budget, we do have targeted increases in several areas. The 2010 budget request is before you in terms of constant dollars, the increase starts to reverse what has been a 10 percent reduction that occurred over the last eight years. And Congressman Simpson, it wasn't in the prior administration, but I know this committee fought back in a bipartisan way to try to restore some of the funding priorities that are so important to the department. And I very much appreciate that.
Let me move quickly in terms of covering a few of the issues that are in the budget. First, in terms of energy, the 2010 budget envisions that we will be able to be partners in achieving the vision that President Obama and this committee and the Congress have as we move forward towards energy independence. We in this budget propose $209 million in new investments in energy and climate science. I want to speak about a few of those things.
First, with respect to renewable energy, $44 million from the Recovery Act, which is not included in this budget, has already been used to expedite the permitting and moving forward with renewable energy projects for both solar and wind and other renewable energy sources.
This 2010 budget includes $75 million -- $75 million to tap into Interior's best land holdings, this committee is very familiar with. We administer on behalf of the American citizens about 20 percent of the land mass in the United States.
It's a huge opportunity there in terms of how we move forward with renewable energy development; and we can do it both onshore as well as on the offshore. So $50 million will go into those renewable energy efforts, just a footnote there. On our beginning work here, we have identified over 200 applications for solar and wind projects, both in the Southwest and the High Plains and off of the Atlantic.
Many of those projects frankly have been waiting and are ready to go. So from Arizona to the off shores of Jersey and Delaware to the High Plains of the Dakotas, we can harness this energy. We are in a position where we believe that with this investment that we will be able to have permits for more than a dozen projects for both solar and for wind completed by the end of 2010. So this is an agenda that's not a pie in the sky dream agenda, but it's something that we can in fact make happen.
We also have included in here $17 million for MMS in BLM for oil and gas leasing programs. We understand the realities that we consume oil and gas and it's important for us to make sure that we have programs that work as we develop our oil and gas resources in this country. In response to some of the concerns of this committee, we also have $8 million for energy audit and compliance. And that is in response in part to the OIG recommendation that we do a better job at MMS in terms of addressing the royalty collections.
Secondly, climate impacts -- we have addressed this issue by including $22 million to expand the climate effects network. This is a signature issue, I know, of this committee. We've included $40 million for land management bureaus to develop the tools to address the effects of climate change, and to essentially monitor what is happening out on the ground. To then keep -- do the scientific analysis; and to begin the management adaptation strategies that we are going to have to have in place to deal with the reality of climate change.
We also include in here $40 million in grant funding to states to develop climate change adaptation strategies, and $10 million for the U.S. Geological Survey for carbon sequestration research. I was in North Dakota just a -- bless you, Congressman Moran. I was in North Dakota just a few weeks ago. And I visited what is, I understand, the only existing carbon sequestration plant in North America.
And they were injecting into a pipeline 8,000 tons of steel tubes with them being used for enhanced oil recovery in a pipeline that is 200 miles, it goes to the north across the Canadian oil fields. So, I think there is great potential there. This will help us move forward to figure out a way of burning coal and doing it with the new technologies we develop.
That's on the energy and climate change issue. Secondly, treasured landscapes -- it's another one of the moon shots that we absolutely want to take, the signature issue of these times. I hope that at the end of our time here together, working hand in hand, that we can say that the legacy for the landscapes of America are equal to those of the vision of Abraham Lincoln in establishing Yosemite (or buying ?) the lands for that, a vision that President Teddy Roosevelt had in establishing wildlife refuges and the foundation for our national parks systems, or John Kennedy's great vision for land and water conservation.
So we make some significant down payments on the treasured landscapes agenda here; and I look forward to continuing to work with you on how we can move that forward. One area specifically here is with respect to parks, we have a $2.3 billion request with respect to investments in parks, which is $100 million increase that will improve visitor facilities, perform daily maintenance, and conduct interpretative Ranger programs. The budget includes $25 million in parks for park partnerships. We're modeling this subcommittee's action in 2008 to leverage private donations so that we can stretch our dollars further by bringing in the private sector.
If I may just a quick footnote on that -- we ought to look at our national treasures and our landscapes really as economic engines for America. When you think about the billions of dollars that are -- that come into the economy from hunting, fishing, and recreation in the outdoors, it is -- they are not jobs that can be exported. Those are jobs that are truly American jobs that will always stay here. So whether it's the national icons of Mount Rushmore in South Dakota and rural America, or whether it's the Statue of Liberty in New York City. There are huge amounts of economic, positive consequences that come from us making sure that we're protecting and preserving our history as well as our treasured landscapes.
Third, our 21st Century Youth Conservation Corps. We requested $50 million to start moving forward in that arena, including $30 million that we could use for a fishing and hunting program to help bring young people out into the woods, out into the outdoors; so that we invest in them the same kind of connection landscapes that I know that people on this committee share.
Finally American Indians, and our efforts to empower American Indians, the first Americans of this country. We have several budget initiatives in here just referenced briefly to them. Law enforcement and Indian education, a little over $100 million that we're requesting in these areas. First with respect to law enforcement, we have a situation in Indian country today where the rule of law is simply not upheld.
We have huge amounts of crime and violence. Sometimes it's eight to ten times higher than it is in non-Indian country. We need to address those issues effectively; and so we have requested $30 million to put additional officers on the streets; and increase our efforts at detention facilities and justice systems in Indian country.
As soon as I get my assistant secretary for Indian Affairs confirmed, we will create a task force. Then, we'll work with the Department of Justice and the states and tribes to move forward to finally address the issue of lawlessness on -- in Indian country. And second, Indian education -- I did not know when I took this job that I would be the superintendent of all these schools. We have nearly 50,000 young, Native Americans that attend the 183 schools that are under the Department of Interior, included funding in here for education of young people. The Recovery Act money actually helped in significant ways in terms of school construction and also with respect to the tribal colleges. So there's $72 million included in this budget for Indian education.
Let me just conclude by saying that I am honored to be secretary of the Interior because in large part I get to work with people like you. Some of my colleagues in the United States Senate when I was making the decision to leave a comfortable position on the U.S. Senate, where more than likely I could have won reelection in 2010, said to me, why are you doing this? If you were moving forward to run the Department of Justice, attorney general or secretary of state to deal with all the international issues, I would see why you would give up a United States Senate seat.
My response to them is that I would rather be secretary of Interior because of the fact that at the end of the day we are dealing with all of our 325 million Americans, all of our planets; and with the issues that ultimately are going to make a huge difference not only for ourselves but for generations to come. So I very much look forward to working with you in your role as members of Congress and this committee and in my role as secretary of Interior.
And with that Congressman Dicks, I would be, Mr. Chairman, happy to take any questions.
REP. DICKS: Well thank you very much. That's an extraordinarily positive statement, one that is very much appreciated. You know, one of the -- I saw you on The Today Show just a week ago up at the Statue of Liberty. I know there's a lot of members of our New York delegation that were very pleased by the announcement that we're going to open this thing up. And I'm glad we're able to do that.
There's been -- there was a statement put out in redacted form that we received, and we've reviewed it. And I just want to ask you, you know, that you, you know -- and I've talked to the Park Service, they're very comfortable with what's going to happen. Why don't you tell the committee what your plan is and over the -- for the next several years up there; and so that we can better understand it.
SEC. SALAZAR: I appreciate the question, Congressman Dicks. First, in terms of the plan, the plan is that between now and the Fourth of July, there will be modifications made to the statue to make it more safe. And it will include, for example, a handrail on the downstairs, the down incline of the steps of the Statue of Liberty for public safety reasons.
We also will develop a program that essentially will minimize the number of people who can actually have access into the statue itself.
The recommendations from the experts who prepared the review are that we provide access to 30 people an hour to the crown. That essentially will mean that you'll have 10 people on the way up, 10 people in the crown, and 10 people on the way down. And if you calculate that, over the entire course of the year and the hours that the Statue of Liberty is open, it equates to about 50,000 people that will have access to the crown of the Statue of Liberty.
So that's the interim plan two years out; then the longer term plan will be to move forward with what will be longer term changes that will enhance further the public safety within the Statue of Liberty. And it will take about two years to go through the construction phase of that. And so, access will be shut down for that two-year period while these renovations are in fact made. At the end of that period, what we will have done is not only will we have opened up the crown for the Statue of Liberty, but we also will have made the place significantly more safe for people.
The second point I would make, Congressman Dicks is the question of whether or not ultimately it will be safe. I am depending here on the recommendations of our National Park Service, as well as the experts that were hired to provide us a review. Nothing in life is risk free. All of us who are here in Washington see the Washington memorial and the number of people who actually have access up and down to the Washington memorial. There are always risks, but we have through extraordinary efforts of consultants, who have been hired to take in a very comprehensive view of those issues; and are confident we will be able to minimize the risks within the Statue of Liberty and the visitors to the Statue of Liberty.
REP. DICKS: And the Park Service gave me a briefing on this. And they feel that the plan that has been adopted -- they took it back to the consultants, who had come up with this, the recommendations for some changes. And they felt that the things that you were doing made -- there is always risks in everything we do, but made the risks acceptable. So we're pleased to hear that.
We just want to make sure that, you know, we do everything we can during this two years while we're designing this. I guess the first two years you have to design the changes that are going to be made. And we also, you know, we look forward to hopefully a budget request in '11 to deal with this. So -- from the administration and -- but I think I know there is a lot of -- I know Congressman Weiner and many other people were very interested in seeing the statue open again. And I'm glad we can do it for the first -- for two years.
Tell us about, you know, you mentioned this 21st Century Youth Conservation Corps initiative. It was very interesting, Youth Conservation Corps has been a program that Senator Jackson from my state worked on, and Congressman Meads (ph) from Washington State and created. And it almost died but we fought off some of the people who wanted just to end this program. And we kept it at a very low level.
But what you're talking about is a much greater expansion especially at a time when young people need jobs. And we also want to get young people out into the woods. I think this is a great idea. And I'm sure you'll have no problem getting the young people to be in the program.
Can you tell us a little bit more about it and what your thinking is here?
SEC. SALAZAR: Certainly. First in terms of the need, I do believe we need to connect our young people to the outdoors in a much more significant way than we have in the past. I am following a model that I created when I was director of the Department of Natural Resources in Colorado, where I created the Youth and Natural Resources Program. Through that program, we had 5,000 young people who worked with us, ages probably 16 through 26.
These are young people who would come and work in maintenance in the parks and helping us count fish and streams and a whole host of other things. Get a wage and at the same time get exposed to higher education. Many of them for the first time attending two or three days at the University of Colorado or Colorado State University.
The result of that program is that the 5,000 kids who went trough that -- and it was a very diverse group. One of the things we were trying to do was to reach out to Native Americans, African Americans, Hispanic women who had not participated at the same levels in those kinds of programs. But today, many of those young people who went through that program are now wildlife biologists, park rangers and water engineers.
I hope we can do the same kind of thing here at the Department of Interior. And we are on the way to try to get as many as 15,000 young people who will be working with us over this summer as seasonals in these kinds of programs. And hope to be able to expand the program with the request in the budget, which would include $30 million more to help us bring young people in the outdoors for hunting and fishing, as well as $20 million for educational type of programs.
REP. DICKS: All right.
REP. SIMPSON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you, Mr. Secretary for your opening statement. I agree with what you say. I really think the job you have is one of the most important jobs in government, quite frankly. It probably affects more American lives than most people realize.
I particularly thank you for mentioning the Lands Bill, which I supported, which I think is very important. And while I sometimes get criticism from some of my friends that -- particularly in Idaho that don't think we need anymore wilderness, and so forth and so on. I'm actually hopeful that future generations that aren't born yet will look back at us and say well done; that we preserved these precious landscapes for them when we had the opportunity to do so.
So I appreciate you mentioning that. Let me talk about, or ask you a couple of questions about some issues that have come up that are sometimes some problems that have been mentioned to me by people. One is we seem to have a broken land appraisal process and land acquisition process within the Department of Interior. The delays that are caused by the inability to appraise these lands and stuff are making it difficult for people that want to work with the federal government, and are willing to sell their lands in certain areas to the federal government are finding it very, very difficult because of the delays that occur. Are you aware of the process or the problems that exist there? And what are you doing to try to address those problems?
SEC. SALAZAR: Congressman Simpson, I am aware of those problems, and let me respond in two ways. First, I'm keenly aware of the problems in respect of the two projects in Idaho. I have asked BLM staff to take a look at it and provide a report back to me so we can figure out how we can break that process loop, and so we're working on that particular issue.
Secondly, I think it is a systemic issue that needs to be looked at. I think the Idaho issues are only emblematic to the problem, which is a much larger problem, and so once we get our people on the ground and have an assistant secretary for policy, planning and budgeting, as well as land and minerals, then we can provide some assistance to Ben Hayes (sp) and others so that they are not having to work 19 hours a day, and we will take a longer term look at the problem and try to come up with solutions.
REP. SIMPSON: Well I appreciate that, and you're right, it is -- I didn't mention to two Idaho projects even though you and I have talked about them and so forth, because I think that it is a systemic problem, one that we've got to address because we've got to be seen -- I think the federal government has to be seen as being able to work with these landowners if we're going to acquire that land, that precious land along some of the rivers in Idaho. It's along the Snake River and (Henry's ?) Lake area that is very important.
Another issue is the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals recently issued a decision that would appear to place the current OCS five-year plan in jeopardy.
The lawsuit specifically addressed environmental concerns in Alaska, but some people are interpreting that court's decision as vacating the entire OCS five-year plan. Vacating the current plan would mean the loss in millions of dollars in receipts in the current oil production in the gulf.
How is the Department of Interior interpreting the 9th Circuit's ruling? From where you sit does the ruling apply only to Alaska or to the entire five-year plan of the OCS, and what's next with regard to resolving this question?
SEC. SALAZAR: Congressman Simpson, let me just say it is a very, very important question and a very difficult one to figure out what it was that the court intended to do.
REP. SIMPSON: It's hard to figure out what a court would say? (Laughs.)
SEC. SALAZAR: The court, first of all so we're all clear here, and Ben or Congressman Chandler, as attorney general we served together as attorneys general for six years, so I know Ben well. I served probably as attorney general in my state and litigated thousands of matters including many Supreme Court matters, and I want to just make, with all due respect, one clarification to your statement, Congressman Simpson.
This was not the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which I know has a reputation some places. This was the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, the second highest court in the land next to the United States Supreme Court, and the decision was written by a judge who is appointed by a Republican, a conservative judge, and frankly was looking at the plan that had been authorized in 2007 by the Department of the Interior. And in the decision, the district, the DC Circuit Court found that insufficient environmental analysis had taken place in the development to that plan. And you can read that plan to essentially say that the entire OCS five-year plan has been thrown out and that nearly 2,000 leases in the Gulf coast and in Alaska have been issued, essentially have been called into question.
You can read the decision that way, that it is that far reaching of a decision. And so what we have done is petitioned the court for clarification, and we make arguments in our petition that at a minimum we ought to be allowed to go in and cure the environmental defects but keep the 2007, 2012 plan in place. And that's particularly true in the Gulf coast where there has been so much environmental analysis that has been done.
So at this point in time what we have done is filed our petition with the DC Circuit Court for clarification. We're waiting for a response from the court, and that should give us a better idea on how to proceed. I will keep the committee informed as soon as we get that decision from the DC Circuit Court.
REP. SIMPSON: Do we know what the loss of revenue would be if the court threw out the entire five-year OCS?
SEC. SALAZAR: It is major, and we have addressed that in our brief. It is in the billions of dollars.
REP. SIMPSON: One other question. The fees proposed on non- producing oil and gas leases. How do you define the term "non- producing lease"? Would the proposed fees on non-producing oil and gas leases be addressed at the issuance of the lease or after a certain period of time? How would that work, and would existing leases tied up in this litigation that have been approved, would they be subject to the fees even though it's under litigation?
SEC. SALAZAR: Yeah, the proposed four-dollar-an-acre fee for non-producing lease acreage and how exactly that would work is something that we will work with the members of Congress to figure out the exact detail. The concept, however, is one that should not be at all alien to those of us from the West. I practiced water law for many years, and just like in Idaho, know the water laws of that state have the use-it-or-lose-it doctrine.
So when you're dealing with a very valuable commodity, which is owned by the public, and in the case of water and the West, it's water owned by the public, appropriated by private owners. The same analogy can be made with respect to oil and gas. It's a very precious resource that is owned by all of America, the entire public. And so having a fee, essentially creates, from our point of view, a sense of diligence, in terms of moving forward. So it is a, hopefully will incentivize people to move forward and do exploration and development.
REP. SIMPSON: We haven't defined yet what non-producing lease actually means. Is that right? I mean, because if they get a lease and they are doing geological work on it and so forth as opposed to actually producing gas and oil, is that a non-producing lease or have we gone that far to make that determination yet?
SEC. SALAZAR: You know your question -- I know you're just trying to help me here but I think the answer to your question is that that has not yet been defined, and we will work with you to --
REP. DICKS: Will the gentleman yield just for a second on that point?
REP. SIMPSON: Certainly. Yes.
REP. DICKS: I agree with the gentleman here. You know, it does take a while to go through the environmental process. When we had this, there was some legislation last year, a use-it-or-lose-it approach, and I brought in people from your department and asked them, now, what's a reasonable period of time? And, you know, they would say, like four or five years to get to a point where you can get into production. So as you said, maybe you're going to have to evaluate this yourself as the secretary, but you know I think it would be unfair, myself, to start penalizing people the day they got the lease. So you have to work out a plan of some sort. I yield to you.
SEC. SALAZAR: Mr. Chairman, if I may?
REP. DICKS: Yes.
SEC. SALAZAR: I agree with you, and I agree with Congressman Simpson. You know it does take time, you know, once the lease is finally approved, to go out and do the exploration and then to make the investments to do the drilling and then get it into production, so that's part of what we will work with you on as we move forward.
Drawing back on my water law analogy, if I may for a second. I know you don't have all -- you do have problems with --
REP. SIMPSON: -- We have water problems too. Believe me.
SEC. SALAZAR: But the, you know --
REP. SIMPSON: -- Trying to keep California from taking -- (inaudible) -- (laughter).
SEC. SALAZAR: You know there's a statutory mechanisms and case law that at least for the state of Colorado would require abandonment after 10 years of non-use. I don't know if that's the right measure to use, but it's something that we will work with you all on, to develop something that's commonsensical --
REP. SIMPSON: -- Yeah.
SEC. SALAZAR: -- that addresses your concerns.
REP. DICKS: All right.
REP. SIMPSON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. DICKS: Mr. Moran.
REP. JAMES P. MORAN (D-VA): Thanks, Mr. Chairman. Nice to have you running the department, Senator-Secretary, and we look forward to working with you.
The U.S. Geological Survey just recently released a study which documented how dust from the Colorado plateau, especially from public lands, is being carried by wind and deposited on the snow pack of the Rocky Mountains. This causes a darkening and premature melting of that snow pack. The dust has substantially increased over many years, obviously, primarily due to surface disturbing activities, and they cite off-road vehicle use, energy development, and grazing.
With climate change models predicting a hotter and much dryer desert in the Southwest, any additional melting of the snow pack will threaten water supplies for all of the downstream Colorado River users, which is millions of people. The U.S. Geological Survey reports that best grazing practices, limitation of off-road vehicle use, and energy-development surface disturbance, in fact, are the best ways to prevent this dust problem, to mitigate it.
So, I wanted to ask what steps are land managers taking to mitigate and/or prevent increased surface disturbance? It's a good example of how this ecology is inter-related and ultimately affects people.
SEC. SALAZAR: It is something which we as, I think, the leading earth science agency in the country, on behalf of the U.S. government and its people, spend a lot of time working to develop the science and to try to come up with conclusions as the USGS did in the study that you raised. We'll continue to do that, and indeed invested some $41 million out of the Economic Recovery Act for those continued scientific analyses to take place.
I will note that there are a number of different factors that are contributing to these issues on the Colorado plateau. And among those issues, as you noted, is the issue of climate change, and of what all that means with respect to water supply, which I know is an issue for all of the states that share the water on the Colorado River. The water user organizations along the Colorado River basin in the seven states have been some of the leading advocates for us to do something on climate change because they recognize that the warming of the planet is causing significant impacts in terms of seasonality of flows and the runoff from mountain snow. And so it's an issue that's very much on our mind, Congressman Moran, and we will keep you updated and be happy to provide you any additional information.
REP. MORAN: Well obviously the macro issue is global climate change, but there are some micro issues that are specific to Interior Department enforcement that come to bear, and of course it's one of the things about the Interior Department is that they do the research, they come up with the professional scientifically based conclusions, and then we need to take those conclusions and, working with you, to take some of the difficult measures. And I say they're difficult, largely because of the political context to bring them about.
Let me cite another such issue. Just this past weekend a group of off-read vehicle protestors, exhorted by a Kane County commissioner and a Utah state representative, illegally rode up a route to the Paria River on the Grand Staircase national monument through a wilderness study area. The route has been closed for about ten years, as part of the monument's management plan. The BLM declined to issue any citations or otherwise intervene in what was clearly and provocatively an illegal action.
Enforcement of conservation measures is never easy. We know that. And rarely popular. I mean, for example, in Wyoming. Teddy Roosevelt dedicated Yellowstone National Park and for ten years the Wyoming state legislature tried to repeal that. Well of course they never would do that now, but it took quite some time and a lot of, you know, political backbone to preserve it, and no one would ever suggest that that was not the right thing to do initially, but how do you think BLM should be responding to these challenges to federal policy?
SEC. SALAZAR: Congressman Moran, I believe that no one is above the law. No one is above the regulations. And once we have rules in place that they ought to be followed. And it is something that is of concern to me. I was not aware that the BLM had refused to take action in this particular incident in Utah. But it is something that, as you raise it, is of concern to me.
REP. MORAN: Okay. Well I'm glad to hear that. Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
REP. DICKS: Thank you.
REP. JERRY LEWIS (R-CA): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Secretary Salazar, this is my first exposure to you personally. I must say that I am very impressed by both your style and also the content of that which you are communicating with the committee. You know, we don't have to agree on everything as Mr. Simpson said, but in the meantime, working together is the way, the best way for us to come to some positive and non-partisan solutions.
As we look to energy independence, among the alternative sources that will play a part of that, both solar and wind energy potentially impact the territory I happen to represent very significantly. And the conflicts become quickly obvious for anybody who would but look.
In the California desert, the Mojave is ever present. You can put almost four Eastern states in that territory and have room left over. But we also have our two nation's most significant military training centers, the National Training Center for the Army, and the Twentynine Palms Marine Corps facility where they are doing the training that absolutely prepares our people for the work, the challenges they face in the Middle East. At the same time, off-road vehicle users of our desert territories are very anxious to have some territory remain, and yet, while they have been very cooperative with our military efforts, they at the same time have been pushed all over the place.
As we go to expand further, either wilderness or the kind of preservation that takes place in the East Mojave national preserve, we directly impact these alternative sources. One of the proposals would have a major solar facility in the region. If, let's say, we use our desert for those purposes and look to it as one of the alternatives, how do we deal with questions like endangering ground squirrel or the desert tortoise? How do we deal at the same time with those off-road vehicle users who will be pushed away one more time?
The Marine Corps needs more territory for Twentynine Palms. Significant territory. And as you're having these discussions going forward with my colleague Dianne Feinstein, there obviously are oral and conflicting circumstances that we have to consider.
To make the point in a different way, as you drive east from my district into a territory known as Palm Springs, there's a vast territory on the edges there where the first major set of windmills were put up. Now I've got to tell you, I don't spend a lot of my time worrying too much about visual blight. But if that's not visual blight, I have not seen it anywhere. And at the same time, many a person is expressing concern about what windmills are doing to birds in the region.
So as we go about meeting these challenges, and we're dealing with a relatively small part of our total quest for energy independence, both solar and wind energy have their difficulties. And I'd like to know what you all are thinking about in connection with those conflicts.
SEC. SALAZAR: Congressman Lewis, you raise a -- it's an excellent question, and one of the main charges that I have is to try to work through those issues. And we are in fact working through them in a global context. In responding to your question, it seems to me that what we have to do is be proactive in planning where we are going to site both solar, wind or geothermal energy facilities. And that requires us to be thoughtful essentially to take on the kind of land use planning effort that is taken on by local governments everywhere.
You, from California, Congressman Lewis, I know, are very familiar with the Ready program, which BLM and the governor and lots of other people have been participating in. The idea is to -- and we are moving very fast forward to the point where hopefully very soon we'll be able to sign an MOU where we are going to zone the appropriate places for siting of these renewable energy facilities with the state of California -- is to basically look at the entire -- in this particular case, all of southern California where there is the possibility for huge solar potential. And when you look at the map of southern California you see the huge solar potential that is there. But then what you have to do, as you go through your screening process, is you take out those areas that are national parks or national monuments, or those areas where you are going to have a conflict with an endangered species, or where you have Department of Defense facilities.
So you go through these multiple screenings, and then you are left with those areas which we believe are appropriate for use for, say, a solar energy facility, and take into account also how that solar energy facility is located in proximity to the grid, so that you deal with the transmission issue. And we have moved forward with that kind of planning process.
You're -- the investments of this Congress through the Economic Recovery program has allowed us to essentially do the environmental analysis that's required so that we can in fact make those plans a reality, and we include in this budget a significant request to continue those efforts, which will include the opening up of renewable energy offices. So hopefully, by doing that, we'll be able to avoid those conflicts.
I will say this, Congressman Lewis, that I think in the past what has happened is there has been kind of a helter-skelter approach to applications for solar and wind and geothermal on the public lands. It's whoever comes in the door first, well we'll take your application. And it seems to me that we need to reverse that. And we need to be planning and essentially saying, these are the places where it would be most appropriate for the siting of these kinds of facilities. And that's what we are undertaking, with all deliberate speed.
REP. LEWIS: Well, Mr. Secretary, I was very impressed by your discussion of developing policies that encourage Americans to understand, see, and participate in appropriate use of our public lands. Kids in parks, you know, and etcetera. But when we created the East Mojave preserve, BLM, the National Park Service, the forestry people knew that there were about five major areas that deserved almost wilderness status; pristine areas. The vast percentage of the territory was common desert land. A practical decision was made at the other end to preserve the five different areas that were relatively small that encompass millions of acres to which people have very little access.
The volunteers used to go with the BLM to take care of the bighorn sheep. We're not allowed to go in any longer. The park service did it. The park service didn't want to have volunteers come in. So we lost watering holes, and bighorn sheep in large numbers died as a result of it.
So sensible policy that just doesn't automatically presume we can't afford to do the management of individual areas, that close down the whole territory, is just a reverse end product, in terms of the kind of use you were talking about. So I'd appreciate very much a continuing dialogue regarding these sorts of questions as we look at broadening the use of public lands for park and for preservation purposes.
I have one other comment. If the Secretary would, I'd appreciate very much, in terms of your alternative energy source development, where is the Department relative to expanded use of nuclear within the mix? A long time ago we made a decision especially to walk away from nuclear while other countries in the world have made different decisions.
SEC. SALAZAR: President -- Congressman Lewis, President Obama has stood for a comprehensive energy plan where we put all of the items on the menu of an energy portfolio on the table, and it does include nuclear. The Department of Energy leads that effort more so than the Department of Interior, but we do have a role with respect to the production of uranium on our public lands as well as dealing with how we ultimately are going to deal with the disposal issues, which are very difficult issues as we move forward with a nuclear chapter.
REP. BEN CHANDLER (D-KY): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Secretary Salazar, wonderful to see you. Always wonderful to see you, and I for one was very, very pleased when I got the news that President Obama was going to nominate you for this position. Some of your friends, I think you said earlier, were puzzled by your taking this position, but having known you from your work as attorney general, I know how you feel about public service and stewardship, and this allows you to be the chief steward. You can't beat that. I think it's one of the best jobs in the United States of America, and I can't think of a more terrific person to hold the post.
SEC. SALAZAR: I agree with the first part of your statement on the terrific job. (Laughter.)
REP. CHANDLER: And that's why the second part of my statement was accurate.
Several observations. I'm very pleased with your efforts with the Civilian Conservation Corps idea. Of course, we know the history of that with President Roosevelt, and I heard for years from my wife's grandfather about it because as a young man he was employed by the CCC during the Roosevelt years, and it meant so much to so many people in this country. And as you said, it connected them to the land. And that was a very, very important thing. And a very important thing for the ongoing stewardship of the land in our country.
I think it's a very far-sighted approach. I also appreciate your quote. Since we've had so many secretaries of the Interior from the western part of the country, I appreciated seeing your quote that you were going to make this about all of America. And I think, for those of us from the eastern side of the Mississippi River, we appreciate that because we know that the resources on the eastern side are awfully important too. And at some point, I've already made Chairman Dicks view some of the Appalachian mountain range with me, I'm going to try to get you to do it. See if I can talk you into it.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
One of the major budget initiatives, of course, that you've talked about, in fact, the first one that you talked about was a new energy frontier with, of course, the heavy focus on renewables on federal lands, the production of renewable energy. Have you considered -- and I know in your time in the Senate you were involved with this and some other, with traditional energy sources -- the conservation royalty approach. Have you considered the notion of attaching a conservation royalty to renewable energy, as it goes forward, one that maybe was dedicated to the land and water conservation fund?
SEC. SALAZAR: Thank you Congressman Chandler. Let me just first of all just say I appreciate your comments and views in making sure this is a department of the Americas, because I do, as I told Congressman Dicks and Congressman Simpson when I first met with them, when I was going through confirmation everybody assumed this was a department of just the West. You looked at our wildlife refuges. You looked at our national parks. You looked at the things we do in territories that really is about all of America, so I appreciate that comment.
With respect to conservation royalty on renewables, I want to have a robust conversation with you and obviously with the President and OMB on what we do with some of the dollars that will be generated from renewable energy. Right now, under the current statute, at least in the offshore, the revenue-sharing mechanism is at 27½ percent. It goes to the coastal state. The rest of it goes into the federal treasury. I want us to explore the possibility of taking some of those revenues and directing them into this 21st century land and water conservation fund.
I know these are difficult issues, but we need, I think, we need to move forward in that direction. My own view that I have shared with the chairman is that when you look at the Land and Water Conservation Fund; and Bobby Kennedy, Stewart Udall, Henry Diamond, and others wrote that in the early 1960s, and then President Kennedy, in his letters to Congress and his statements to Congress, said we need to move forward with the LWCF. The thought was that we were taking resources from our earth and that those resources should produce revenue to permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund effort.
But it didn't go very far, and so the consequence of that is that we have not funded it. So I'm going to, we're going to be working with you closely on that.
REP. CHANDLER: Well I noticed that you said that President Obama had a vision of fully funding it, and this would be one of the ways, at some point, that we could get there, it would seem to me.
REP. DICKS: Thank you very much.
REP. CHANDLER: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
REP. DICKS: Mr. Calvert, from California.
REP. KEN CALVERT (R-CA): Thank you for coming today. You mentioned water. I'm from California, so we're happy to extract water from the state of Washington, if given the opportunity.
MR. : No. (Laughter.
REP. CALVERT: And certainly Colorado has been a big friend to California's water use over the years. I enjoy visiting California when our water is white up there on the mountains. It's a beautiful sight to see.
But right now, we are in a significant crisis. You're probably aware that we have some communities in the central valley that have over 50 percent unemployment. Water has been significantly cut back because of the ongoing crisis in the delta.
Last December, the Fish and Wildlife agency issued a new biological opinion for the delta smelt after a federal judge ruled back in 2007 that a previous opinion was inadequate and ordered state and federal fish agencies to issue a revised one. The opinion, which forms the basis of new operating rules for the state water project and federal central valley project, would result in a permanent restriction on water deliveries through the delta, reducing deliveries by up to 50 percent some years.
You may be aware, that project serves over 25 million Californians and millions of acres of farmland. The most recent studies indicate that the operation of these water pumps is the greatest factor in reducing Delta smelt population. It's not the greatest factor, excuse me, in reducing the Delta smelt population. The biological opinion calls for increased reservoir releases in the fall in some years to reduce salinity. This may be in direct conflict with the biological opinion that protects salmon that is expected to be issued by official wildlife report later this year.
The state and local agencies involved in water resource management continue to struggle with the narrow approach of the Endangered Species Act, the tendency for the ESA regulations to exclusively focus on singular stressors to the complex ecosystem. As a result, promising projects are all too often tied up in bureaucratic red tape litigation. Meanwhile, species continue to decline as a result.
I understand that both the governorGovernor Schwarzenegger and Senator Feinstein have asked you to consider appointing a high level federal designee to work with the state and federal agencies to ensure consistent and coordinated application of ESA particularly in the case of the Delta smelt/salmon biological opinions. Is this something you're going to consider?
SEC. SALAZAR: Yes, indeed and I will personally be involved.
REP. CALVERT: Have the pumping restrictions which have now been in place for more than a year hadif you have any knowledge of this, have pumping restrictions which have now been in place for more than a year, I think almost 18 months now, had an impact on the Delta smelt population?
SEC. SALAZAR: The fact is that the Delta and its water supply is being managed in a way to try to address the multiple demands for water in what is a very complex ecosystem. Congressman Calvert, you were correct when you said that there were multiple factors related to the endangered species issues in the Bay Delta. You have not only the pumps, which were addressed in the biological opinion but also a whole host of other issues, including water quality and a whole host of other issues that have to be dealt with. As I have communicated, Congressman Calvert, to Governor Schwarzenegger as well as to Senator Feinstein and other members of the California delegation, it seems to me we need a time out and a fresh start to frankly start addressing the issues of water in the Bay Delta.
And I would think it will be one of those crown jewels kinds of undertakings, which I will personally be involved, along with the Chesapeake and Puget Sound and others, because of the kinds of challenges that we're facing in the Bay Delta really require the kind of leadership that does not end up putting the farmers, the defenders of the environment, the farm workers who now, in some counties, as you said, are unemployed at the rate of 50 percent in the kind of jeopardy that they are left in year after year, so I will take personal leadership in trying to come up with some solution to the issue.
REP. CALVERT: I would appreciate that. They're in economic crisis in the Central Valley and, of course, it affects Southern California as well, in that a significant part of our water supply comes from the Delta, but the immediate disaster of the Central Valley -- I think you've been through there -- is heartbreaking. People standing in line for food, this devastated economies of the highest unemployment rate in any area of the United States, and the people pulling out their permanent crops, tree crops, that have been there for many years because they can't get enough water just to keep those pecan trees, almond trees watered. It's something that's worth your personal consideration, and I appreciate anything you can do. Thank you. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
REP. HINCHEY: Secretary Salazar, thank you very much also and thank you particularly for the very good things that you've been doing in the short term that you've been there, including a decision which was made late last year to auction oil and gas land on the Utah/Colorado Plateau, which is one of the most pristine areas in the world and you overturned that and protected that very pristine area. And I just want to express my deep gratitude and appreciation for that, among many other things, that you're doing.
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 has in it a lot of pieces that I have found to be very damaging and destructive, including one provision which is a categorical exclusion from NEPA's ability to review oil and gas activities on public lands. In other words, this is a provision that has been used to eliminate that kind of review with regard to those kinds of activities on public land and so what happened is more and more of these drilling permits have been issued with less and less appropriate environmental review. There have been huge amounts of these permits that have been issued, so I'm wondering if you've had an opportunity to look at this and will you reverse this position and instruct the BLM to comply with the CEO and, of course, your own department, NEPA rules with respect to the use of these so- called categorical exclusions that are being issued under that Section 390 of that 2005 energy policy?
SEC. SALAZAR: Congressman Hinchey, let me just say I appreciate the question. I have not yet had the opportunity to get into the details of the issue. I'm aware of the issue and as our assistant secretaries and your directors are affirmed by the Senate I will look at the issue more closely, which is say
I was just given a note that because of my decision concerning the Utah lease sale the United States Senate refused to get to cloture on my Deputy Secretary of Interior on a vote ofthey had only 57 votes to get to cloture, three votes short. It shows the difficulty of these issues, that a decision we made on the Utah lease sales was absolutely the correct decision. I stand by it. I have no regrets, but, frankly, you see the political song and dance that goes down when you make these tough decisions.
But let me comment, I think with respect to a big issue that I know you're concerned about and that's how we get the right balance. We will have development of oil and gas, as I said, but that doesn't mean that you have to turn over every rock and go after oil and gas in every place. There are some places that are too important to protect because of their national iconic values, some of them are national parks or because of other ecological issues, and we will bring that balance. We will make that change, and not everybody is going to be happy and, just like Congressman Simpson indicated, maybe because we make people mad both on the left and right, we may be doing the right thing.
REP. HINCHEY: I thank you very much and I think it would be a very good thing for all of us, for you and for all of us in this congress to look at that 2005 Energy Policy Act because it's just loaded with issues that are being very, very damaging and dangerous, particularly to environmental situations, that categorical review, that elimination of the NEPA, the ability to look into this situation, is very, very touching and I think GAO is coming out with a report sometime later this summer, which is going to be an analysis of that situation and contain some recommendations in it. I think that will be something interesting to look at.
One other brief questionthis is one that has to do with a situation in the state of New York, in fact the part of that state that I represent in this Congress. The economy of this country is in desperate shape and the situation in New York is among all the states that are having a difficult time. One of the things that has tried to be done actually over the course of the last several years was the ability of Native American tribes to set up these casino operations in places that are outside of the areas that they possess, and there have been serious restrictions on that in the context of the previous administration and the previous Secretary of the Interior.
And I'm wondering if you've had an opportunity to look at this issue. There are a number of these issues in a number of places around the country, including two or three of them in the state of New York. One of them is a place called Sullivan County, which is southeastern New York, sort of adjacent to the Pennsylvania border, along the Delaware River. So I'm wondering if you might have an opportunity to look at that. You may not have had it yet, but if you would, I think it would be something significant.
SEC. SALAZAR: I am aware of the issue, Congressman, and aware of the issue as you describe it across the country, with respect to taking land into trust off reservations for a variety of different kinds of purposes. I do not yet have a Secretary for Indian Affairs to confirm theI think it may happen in the next few days, and I will assign a high priority to the new secretary to take a look at the issue.
REP. HINCHEY: Okay. Thank you very much.
REP. KNOLLENBERG: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Mr. Secretary. A pleasure to meet you this morning. I look forward to working with you in the future, and I was pleased as I was reading your biography that you're also a graduate of the University of Michigan, and had a great experience yesterday. Mike Waring of the U.M. office brought the three football, basketball and hockey coaches by and they're doing a little fundraising tour and a great place, as you know.
I want to commend you and President Obama for -- in your budget requests for the Great Lakes restorationand as you look at the sheet, some people may say, "Holy cow, a percent change of 830 percent." That's a big increase, but one of the shames around here is a number of years ago we took sort of a global approach to the Everglades and decided that that was really worth a serious investment.
We've never done that with the Great Lakes. Vern Ehlers and others have worked hard in the Great Lakes Legacy Act. President Clinton started with $50 million and President Bush followed with $50 dollars, but sort of putting along at $50 million a year doesn't get the job done. In Ashtabula County, which was one of the 53 areas of concern in the Great Lakes, we just celebrated the clean-up, but you know it took 30 years and it took a lot of money and it wentsome names that will be familiar -- it started with a congressman by the name of Bill Stanton; it went to a congressman by the name of Dennis Eckert, a two-year guy, Gary Fingerhut, and I've been here for 15 and we're finally getting the job done. And really serious money needs to be put at this problem, and I want to thank you publicly for doing that in your budget request.
The question that I have is on the budget request and it's $475 million. And as I understand it, the EPA has made some announcements relative to how they want to spend it initially and it's $15 million for the USGS, $57.5 million for the Fish & Wildlife folks, $10.5 million for the National Parks system, $3 million for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. As I do a quick scribbling, that only adds up to $86 million, and my concern is that the request is $475 million and $475 million is needed, and so where's the other $400 million?
REP. DICKS: I can help a little bit here. I think there's $134 million that goes to other agencies, to the Army Corps of Engineers, outside of this bill.
REP. KNOLLENBERG: True.
SEC. SALAZAR: To NOAA, to a number of other agencies outside of the Interior Department. This is an EPA program.
REP. KNOLLENBERG: Right.
SEC. SALAZAR: So EPA is taking the lead on this.
REP. KNOLLENBERG: Right.
SEC. SALAZAR: And there's some money being spent on Interior, on Interior agencies, but a lot of it's being spent -- $134 million, I believe, goes to other agencies other than within the Department of Interior.
REP. KNOLLENBERG: Okay. And Mr. Chairman
SEC. SALAZAR: And EPA.
REP. KNOLLENBERG: I appreciate that help very much, but even at that, $134 and $86, we're still just a little north of $200 million, and I think what I'm asking, Mr. Secretary, I'm commending you and the administration for making this a big priority for 28 percent of the world's fresh water. I want to make sure that the $475 million doesn't get stuck in the pockets here and actually gets to Great Lakes restoration, so taking the chairman at his word --
SEC. SALAZAR: Two hundred and eighty-threewe've looked at these numbers now. $283 is at EPA.
REP. KNOLLENBERG: Yeah.
SEC. SALAZAR: For their effort, new clean water.
REP. KNOLLENBERG: Okay.
SEC. SALAZAR: And $134 million goes outside of this bill.
REP. KNOLLENBERG: Perfect. But, unless I'm wrong, and the Chairman's free to correct me, as I add up what EPA has proposed already in their 2010 request, it's the numbers that I indicated, that are $86 and so the EPA owes us $200 million, and I guess I'm asking how that money's going to be spent and how we're going to clean up these areas of concern and take care of the zebra mussel, the sea lamprey, the round gold mediation carp and all that other business.
SEC. SALAZAR: If I may, Congressman LaTourette and Mr. Chairman, there is set aside, I think it's $475 million, spread out across a number of different agencies. One of the agencies that will get a very significant amount to help with this effort is, as Chairman Dicks indicated, EPA at $234 million, but also the Army Corps of Engineers and a whole host of other agencies that are involved.
Let me, I think, give you a better sense of where I'm coming from with respect to the Great lakes. I think there are probably a minimum of ten, maybe many more, of these signature national landscape restoration efforts which require the greatest degree of leadership in order to make sure that the dollars we're investing in there from our end -- at the federal government, the state, the local and the non- profit and private endactually get us to some results, and the Great Lakes restoration effort is one of those efforts and that is why it is included in the budget at the $475 million.
Now the Department of Interior, part of that is only the $86 million I believe you referred to and we will work in partnership with the rest of the federal agencies and other stakeholders to make this a reality. I would like us to see, from my Secretary of Interior, to get to a point where we can see the masterful results as opposed to just ongoing studies with respect to places like the Great Lakes, Chesapeake, the Everglades and so on.
REP. KOLLENBERG: I appreciate the answer and just so I'm clear, one, I think, it's a great initiative. Two, with all the numbers that you've used, the chairman used, I've used, I worry that money's going to get stuck here and not be put in the Great Lakes restoration. I hope you'll
SEC. SALAZAR: Well, gentlemen, I want the gentleman to be assured that we will get a breakdown of this that's comprehensible from the EPA and Interior so that you can completely understand.
REP. KOLLENBERG: I thank you, Chair, and I thank you Mr. Salazar.
REP. DICKS: Let's get to Mr. Olver, if we can. We got three votes coming up. We're going to have to go over and vote and two of them are five minute votes and we'll have to come back and finish this. Can the Secretary -- can you stay?
SEC. SALAZAR: Yeah.
REP. DICKS: Mr. Olver.
REP. PASTOR: I have a list of questions for the record.
REP. DICKS: Okay, we'll put your questions in the record, Mr. Pastor. Mr. Olver.
REP. OLVER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Secretary, I, too, am impressed by your reasons for taking this job and I must say I'm greatly relieved for the natural heritage, for our natural heritage and the future of the Department under your stewardship. I really am. I was very pleased by your presentation here today. I have the honor of being the chair of the THUD appropriations subcommittee.
REP. DICKS: That's Transportation and Housing, in case
REP. OLVER: Transportation, housing and urban development is where one gets the THUD, but in any case it turns out I think we will have many opportunitiesI hope we will have many opportunities to discuss issues because we do build the roads on your Indian reservations and your national parks and the public parks and such. We also do the housing in Indian Country. So I think we're goingI could spend my whole time talking about those things, but I want to explore something else with you that you alluded to.
It puzzles me a little bit. I think you said you have -- and I see in your testimony, 169 primary and secondary schools. And I think you mentioned 50,000 students, which I suspect was not just those 169 but the 183 which includes the tribal colleges and universities, I would guess, the total number of schools and colleges under the BIA. There must be -- at least your managers from the Bureau of Indian Affairs when they spoke with us at an earlier hearing, they pointed out that there were almost 2.5 million people living on reservations and another, well, at least two million, and another half of a million that are living off-reservation. That must mean, then, that there are many of these reservations which do not have schools on them. Is that true?
SEC. SALAZAR: That is correct.
REP. OLVER: That is correct. And they are being educated in the regular schools of the area, so that's why we get to only 50,000 or so people in the educational system that you're dealing with?
SEC. SALAZAR: That's right.
REP. OLVER: I think you said 50,000 students, roughly?
SEC. SALAZAR: Roughly. It's actually, I think the number's more like 42,000 but it's gone -- it used to be at 147,000. I think the number is about 42,000.
REP. OLVER: Well now, then, does the amount that is included in the budget, which is $796 million or something like that, is that for education? Does that cover more than just those -- does that go to payment for Indian students who are out in the public schools, other than on the reservations, or does that only go for that 169 primary and secondary schools and 14 colleges and universities?
SEC. SALAZAR: My understanding, but I can look at this further to confirm this point, but my understanding is that it goes to the schools under the jurisdiction of BIA and to the tribal colleges, so the approximate $100 million increase that we have for education in Indian Country would be investments into those schools and, indeed, from the recovery package, we made major investments in the construction aspect of many of these schools as well.
REP. OLVER: So we don't pay for the education of Indian students if they're being educated in the public schools in any way? Is there any payment madefederal paymentmade to localities?
SEC. SALAZAR: I think you are correct, but, again, I would be happy to provide additional response to you. I'm not -- or maybe somebody on the committee might
REP. OLVER: I think Mr. Cole is suggesting that there is impact of some sort, but where does it appear in the budget?
SEC. SALAZAR: Probably in the Department of Education.
REP. OLVER: The Department of Education.
SEC. SALAZAR: Correct.
MR. COLE: (Off mike) -- grants, as well, to help with their educational plans, but that's mostly at the higher education --
REP. OLVER: Well, that's sort of the edge of a much larger problem. We'll have some discussions, perhaps staff, about -- Mr. Secretary, in the area of housing, it turns out that we have a program under HUD -- I have a program under HUD, which is somewhere in the $600 million a year range and there is a housing program under Interior for something in the range of $20 million a year, in that range. It's a much smaller program.
We've had the experience this year of the president's budget looking at another issue: ground field redevelopment and so on, where EPA, which is under this subcommittee, has a program for assessment of ground field, but HUD traditionally has had a smallish program for redevelopment of ground field sites and such, and our program in HUD was zeroed out under the belief that that was duplicative. Now I see nothing about whether -- no words in your testimony or in the summary that I have of the budget as to whether that housing program remains in Interior or under your jurisdiction or was it also one of those that was, for reasons of apparent duplication, possible duplication, was being consolidated?
SEC. SALAZAR: Congressman Olver, Budget Director Hayes informs me that we do have $13 million in the BIA for housing. I think your central point, though, is that to the extent that we are able to do so, we should be absolutely coordinating and making sure that Secretary Sean Sullivan and myself and others that have something to do with housing are, in fact, coordinating our housing programs.
MR. OLVER: I hoped we would be able to
REP. DICKS: I think we now are at the edge of this vote. We'd better go over and vote. We'll come right back as quickly as possible and we appreciate your patience.
SEC. SALAZAR: Okay.
MR. : Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Could I yield for a moment to my friend from Idaho for the purpose of recognition?
REP. DICKS: Sure.
REP. SIMPSON: Thanks, Mr. Chairman. I just want to take the opportunity to recognize the Chairman of the Nez Perce tribe that is here, Sam Penney, that's visiting us today and doing some other things, but I'd like to welcome you to the committee. Thanks, Sam.
REP. DICKS: Mr. Cole.
REP. COLE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. First of all let me begin by thanking you for coming back. I appreciate it very much. I know how busy you are and I appreciate you giving us some additional time. Second, I just want to thank you and the president. I appreciate very much the increases in budget as it relates to Indian Country, particularly in education, particularly in law enforcement. They were very badly needed and I appreciate your leadership, Mr. Secretary, in that regard. I've got two areas of questions I want to go. A couple relate to Indian Country, a couple to energy.
On Indian Country, you had the unfortunate experience as soon as you walked in, not untypical, of finding yourself embroiled in a lawsuit, the Carcieri lawsuit, which as I know members of this committee will know, basically the Supreme Court decided that the tribes that were not listed in the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act were not subject to the Department moving land in the trust. It's caused, as you can imagineas you know, a great deal of consternation across Indian Country, particularly for tribes that were recognized by Congress after 1934, so I'm curious as to what sort of legislative fixand I know there's a great deal of bipartisan sympathy to do that; the administration's going to propose something, but where you are in your thinking because otherwise, we're not sure how much, but we've got, you know, a considerable amount of economic activity for newer tribes or tribes that were recognized more recently is actually a better way to put it, that risked.
SEC. SALAZAR: Thank you very much, Congressman Cole, and Mr. Chairman. Again, my apologies for the interruption here and my having to run over to the Senate.
REP. COLE: No problem.
SEC. SALAZAR: Congressman Cole, the Carcieri decision is one of great import to this nation and to the Native American tribes as well as the Department of Interior and all of us have -- all of you who have reservations and Native American communities in your areas. We are keenly aware of the complexity and difficulty of this issue and have engaged in a consultation with the tribal communities to see how we might be able to bring about a legislative resolution that makes sense, so we need to deal with the tribal issues for those tribes recognized between 1934 and this time. And then we also need to develop a process going forward and it is not going to be an easy undertaking, but we'll keep you in the committee up to date as we move forward with it.
REP. COLE: Well, please do. I would certainly like to work with you on finding a satisfactory resolution to that issue. It doesn't affect any of my tribes directly, but it certainly affects a great number of people.
Second, this is just to make a request. This committee received testimony when we talked about law enforcement issues in Indian Country to the effect that a lot of our tribes that are poor and are technically eligible for Department of Justice grants of all sorts, matching grants, simply don't have the funds to do the match. And, you know, it's a considerable problem. Some tribes, again, are fairly successful, and I would hope that you could engage in some sort of discussion with your counterpart at the Department of Justice, with maybe Attorney General Holder, and see if we can find some way because Congress has amended a lot of legislation in recent years to allow tribal governments to apply for the same sorts of grants that our localities and our states get in the law enforcement area, but obviously they don't have a taxing base. They have no ability to tax, and they can't use federal funds to match other federal funds and so, you know, they're really very constrained, so there ought to be some way to either hold them harmless or do something because we certainly have had cases where people need to construct detention facilities on reservations, need equipment, and simply can't come up with the money for the match, and so they don't qualify and it ends up going someplace else, so anything you could do in that regard would be greatly appreciated.
SEC. SALAZAR: Thank you, Congressman Cole, and I think it is a very important issue and it's one of coordination among sister agencies in the federal government. It is an issue that as soon as I have my people on board and we get the people in Department of Justice on board, we will take a hard look at that issue and make whatever changes we need to make to make the granting program more effective and accessible to tribes, the ones you were describing.
REP. COLE: Well, thank you very much, Mr. Secretary. Let me move quickly now to energy, if I may, because I do have some concerns and I don't think you dealt with this in your written testimony, although you may and I may have missed it. I was going through the budget area and there's a discussion I think on page 20 of the document that we got about levying a tax on certain offshore oil and gas production.
I take it this is not the fees we were talking about -- I don't want to get that into it. I'm curious as to what this tax would be. It's not specified and the language says: "In the interest of advancing important policy objectives, such as providing a more level playing field among producers, raising returns to the taxpayer, encourages sustainable oil and gas production. The administration is developing a proposal to impose an excise tax on certain oil and gas produced offshore in the future. The administration looks forward to working with Congress."
I'm just curious where we're at in that process. What kind of a tax is it and how much is it? It sort of implies it would only apply to certain producers, so I'm curious as to who it would apply to and who it wouldn't.
SEC. SALAZAR: Congressman Cole, the specific issue that you raised has to do with certain leases issued in the Gulf during a period in the late Nineties and those leases have been the subject of litigation. We have two ways of resolving the issue: one is to pursue the legal remedies which ultimately here is a pending appeal to the United States Supreme Court; the other alternative is to try to figure out some legislative fix to address that particular issue.
We are working with OMB and obviously we'll work with Congress as we figure out how exactly we're moving forward on the issue.
REP. COLE: I know the issue you're talking about.
Along the same area, there's discussion by the administration for eliminating some of the tax deductions that, frankly, make domestic production possible and tangible drilling cost deductions -- at least allowing those sorts of things. If those were removed, do you have any study underway as to what that would do on the public plans in terms of decreasing exploration and production? I can assure you, if those go away you're going to see a very marked decline in domestic exploration and production there.
Contrary to some of the things in your document, we're not a very cheap place to produce oil and gas; we're a pretty expensive producer because our fields are reasonably mature and a lot of the best sites have already been used. I think that tax incentive is important to the domestic industry and I think my opinion would be that it would impact a number of people seeking permits to drill on public land as well.
Do you have any reaction to that or any study underway?
SEC. SALAZAR: I do have a reaction, Congressman Cole, and that is that we need to make sure that we are getting a fair return back to the American citizen. We are, as citizens, the owners of these public resources.
There is, as you know in this committee, recent GAO studies that indicate that, frankly, the American citizen and taxpayer is not getting a fair return back. The issue you raised is one of those issues that falls in that range of discussion and we will be having conversations with you.
REP. COLE: When we had the discussion with GAO and they appeared before this committee, I asked and I don't think they -- I would just ask you to do the same thing as you look forward because I agree with you, getting a fair return is the appropriate thing and it ought to be at the top of the administration's list of things to do.
But they looked at what we got in comparison to other countries. I would just suggest you ought to look at private leases in the area to see whether or not the government is really not getting the same return. Again, there are other places in the world that are much more lucrative to drill because the finds are potentially much larger than in the United States.
The real question is whether or not the returns the taxpayers are getting are out of line with what a private domestic person who is giving an oil and gas lease would give. I don't think the GAO report actually dealt with it; it really just compared what you might get if you were drilling in a foreign country which, again, might or might not be a much cheaper place to explore and produce.
REP. DICKS: Mr. Price, thank you for being so patient and we're all patient today.
REP. DAVID E. PRICE (D-NC): Yes, indeed. I want to add my word of greetings to the Secretary and thank you for taking this on and for your good work thus far.
REP. DICKS: Mr. Price is the chairman of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, so even though he's a very junior member of this committee, he is a cardinal up here -- so a very important person.
SEC. SALAZAR: Thank you, Congressman.
REP. PRICE: Well, thank you, I wasn't expecting that but I am, as a matter of fact I am a new member of this subcommittee and I'm very glad to be on this subcommittee.
As my question may reveal, I'm asking some fairly basic questions about some of our policy challenges here. In doing that, I'm actually following up mainly on Mr. Simpson's earlier questions about outer continental shelf leasing and related matters.
So let me ask you a couple of questions, again, by way of elaboration. This matter of the proposed fee on non-producing leases: of course this links back, as you recognized, to the debate we had in the House last year on use-it-or-lose-it and the broader debate on outer continental shelf exploration.
I wonder if you could tell us how you define non-producing leases. What is the working definition of that? And what do you envision the ultimate disposition of these leases to be? Is there a certain point to which a non-producing lease should be sold back or with the owner indefinitely continuing to pay a fee? How is this going to work? I'd appreciate your filling that out.
Secondly, this pending five-year proposal, as I understand it, could allow offshore drilling as close as three miles to the shore -- including, as you well know, areas that have been under moratorium recently for as many as 30 years. That certainly applies to North Carolina coastal waters off of the Outer Banks and other areas.
We've passed some compromise legislation in the House that allowed for drilling between 50 and 100 miles offshore and permitted the states to have a decisive role in making that decision. So here, too, I have a question about what you're envisioning as you revisit this five-year plan and formulate your own position. I'm sure you're getting an avalanche of comments as we speak.
What do you regard as the appropriate limit on close-inn drilling and the role of the states in determining what should be permitted?
SEC. SALAZAR: Thank you very much, Congressman Price, those are very important and very timely questions.
With respect to your first question on the fee for non-producing leases, the proposal is that we put in a four dollar per acre fee on these non-producing leases. As I indicated earlier in my testimony, that is still to be defined. We do not have yet a specific proposal on that relative to what it means to be a non-producing lease and for how long.
I think as Chairman Dicks and others on the committee pointed out earlier, just because you get a lease today doesn't mean that you're going to be in production tomorrow or in the next year and it may actually take you multiple years to get there. So that reality has to be factored in as we make the decision and we'll work closely with this committee as we move forward on that.
With respect to your second question concerning the outer continental shelf and the five-year plan, when we think about the OCS in today's world we need to look at in the context of two five-year plans. There is a current five-year plan that's in place, which is the 2007 through 2012 plan; that is a plan that essentially has been thrown out by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. We are in the process of getting clarification from the court about what we do with respect to that plan and all of those leases -- some 2,000 leases in the Gulf and also in Alaska -- that were essentially functioning under the mandate of that five-year plan. So there's a question mark there with the existing plan as it exists today.
Secondly, with respect to the new five-year plan that the prior administration proposed in the late hour of its existence, that particular plan is one in which I have extended the comment period through September 20th; I did so because I did not feel that something that was as major as a new plan for the outer continental shelf should only receive 60 days of comment and input from the Congress. That's essentially what happened with that rollout at the end of the last administration. So I extended the comment period and we're in the process of holding hearings and receiving comments. Obviously the point of view of the members of Congress is very important to us as we move forward with what will be a new five-year plan for the OCS.
In terms of what's appropriate relative to the creation of buffer zones in certain areas, 50 miles or 100 miles, we haven't gotten yet to the point where I have or the President has at least a proposal to move forward with. It's something that we will work with in the coming months.
REP. PRICE: Well, I commend you for reopening that comment period. I would agree that this is a matter of great significance and, as I said, earlier, I expect you're not having any absence of comments. I would imagine they're coming in at a pretty good clip and you'll have plenty to think about.
This issue of the state's role is a vexing one, I think, and I assume there will be a good deal of grist for the mill in that regard as well. We certainly take it seriously in North Carolina -- although we don't have perfect agreement ourselves as to what extent the state should be interjected into some kind of approval process.
We tend to think that a state role in a state like ours is appropriate, given the particular interest we have and the fact that these are waters that are treacherous and of a particular environmental sensitivity.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
REP. DICKS: I have just a couple of things to go through and I'll try to do it quickly. We have been concerned on climate change that we have our wildlife center at the USGS -- and you've done some very good initiatives on climate change in your budget and we appreciate it.
What we're concerned about is that we have a cap and trade bill, we'd like to at least -- I'm talking personally. I'd like to see at least five percent of the revenues generated by that devoted to the protection of wildlife and to help fund the agency. Now this is under consideration by the committee up here; they're looking at this. Mr. Dingell has been a major advocate of this; I'm an advocate of this.
We've talked to Nancy Sutley about this at CEQ in the sense of trying to find out kind of where the administration is in this.
Do you have any idea where the administration stands on this or do you need time to look at this? If there isn't a position taken on this, I think it's something that should be considered.
SEC. SALAZAR: Chairman Dicks, you are looking at something that I think has great possibility and great hope and, frankly, I think that when you look at the amount of money that we need to invest in our land and water conservation and all of the initiatives which this committee has so much supported, yeah, I think one of the ways of getting there is to look at what we've done in the past with what the needs are, whether it be at the Great Lakes or Puget Sound or the Bay Delta or the coastal wetlands of Louisiana or you can keep going on -- the whole landscape of America.
I, frankly, think that we need to figure out ways of getting revenue into that agenda and an appropriate source would be revenue that ultimately comes from cap and trade.
REP. DICKS: All right. Another concern -- you and I have had some good discussions about the Endangered Species Act. One of the things that -- there's been 30 years of listing species or sub- species, or vertebrate population whenever it occurs, once it is determined to be threatened and endangered either in the entirety of the range or in a significant portion of its range.
Now, there was a 2007 opinion made by the previous administration that basically said that a species that is threatened or endangered may be protected in only some of the places it occurs.
Some of us who have been advocates of protecting the Endangered Species Act are concerned about that decision and what the impact might be on previous decisions. I've talked to Tom Strickland about this.
Have you had a chance to think about that issue? As an attorney general and the former head of the DNR in your state, you had a lot of experience on this. Or would you like to take that one for the record?
SEC. SALAZAR: Let me take it for the record but only comment in this regard, that we have seen examples of the Endangered Species Act work in great ways -- the whooping crane recovery program in multiple states and a host of other things.
If we can improve the functioning of the act, legislative changes where we worked with you, as well as whether we can improve it through the administrative authorities which we currently have --
REP. DICKS: One of the things I just mentioned on renewables -- I'm for renewables but they don't all have to be done on public plans; I would hope we would look at private plans as well. As you know, being the senator and attorney general from Colorado, there was under the previous administration kind of a stampede to get these energy projects out there and we don't want to see the same thing happen with renewables -- that we don't take into account the environmental issues. And I'm for all of these renewables -- solar and wind.
I'm a little more nervous about offshore issues because I don't think we've really looked at that.
One other thing that I just wanted to mention to you was on sequestration. Dr. Mark Meyers, who was the former head of U.S. Geological Survey, with his testimony a couple of years ago pointed out that we have not done a lot of science on carbon sequestration in areas other than in former oil and gas fields. We know a little bit about them. But just going out somewhere in, let's say, eastern Washington state or in Colorado and putting this in the ground -- there's not been a lot of science done on this.
There's some money in your budget to do science on this. I think this is imperative that we get this right. I know there was a big flap in Illinois about a project up there that got canceled. But I think trying to find the answers to these things from both a geologic and biological perspective are very important.
I just wondered if you had any comment.
SEC. SALAZAR: I fully agree.
REP. DICKS: Mr. Simpson.
REP. MICHAEL SIMPSON (R-ID): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
There's money in your budget to study sequestration?
SEC. SALAZAR: Yes, there is $7 million.
REP. SIMPSON: Are you coordinating with the Department of Energy on that? I know the Department of Energy is also looking and we fund substantially sequestration studies in the Department of Energy. Are you working cross-department with them?
SEC. SALAZAR: Yes, very closely.
REP. SIMPSON: A couple of other things -- one of them is a statement I just wanted to say. I'm sorry that Mr. Price left but it had to do relative to these states that want to have control really or veto power, I guess, over offshore drilling outside their coast -- really outside of lands in United States waters, not state waters.
They want to have the -- it was part of the deal to get it through. But I find it surprising sometimes when these states want to have the state to have a say in all of this and be able to veto that or whatever. Yet when it deals with public lands within sight of state, whether it's going to be wilderness or something like that, the state doesn't matter.
So there's a little bit of duplicity in all of this. We've got to have the state's input and all of that versus when we try to do it out in the West in some of the wilderness things. We've got proposals from people who live nowhere near Idaho to make -- I don't know, it's nine million acres of Idaho wilderness and they don't live anywhere near Idaho. Their argument is always: these are all public lands owned by all of us.
They're right, but the people who are going to protect these lands are the people who live there -- just a statement.
A couple of other questions -- any chance the administration is looking again at a moratorium on OCS?
SEC. SALAZAR: We are going through a very thoughtful process, Congressman Simpson, concerning the OCS. We're looking at a number of different things including where we need additional information where we don't have any information. For example, in the Atlantic, the last seismic work that was done there was some 30 years ago. So we're taking a comprehensive approach in assembling information and data and input but do not at this point have a plan, whether it's moratorium or not moratorium or defining areas where it's going to be appropriate to go.
REP. SIMPSON: Is the department going to be looking at a rewrite of the 1872 Mining Law?
SEC. SALAZAR: Yes.
REP. SIMPSON: Have you got an outline for that yet? Do you know what you will be proposing? We've had laws -- a proposal -- pass Congress last year that was, in my view, a little extreme. But I'm one who believes that the 1872 Mining Law needs to be updated -- obviously since 1872.
The one that passed the House, as I said, was a little extreme and obviously was not going to go anywhere in the Senate. We need a common sense proposal to updating this mining law.
SEC. SALAZAR: I agree with you, Congressman, that this is something that we need to move forward and reform the 1872 Mining Law. There are many areas, frankly, of agreement already between the mining world and the environmental world. There may be a way in which we can craft legislation that will be acceptable. It is a priority of mine; it is not something, frankly, that I'm going to be able to get to in terms of the substance in the negotiation and working with you and other members of the Congress until I am able to get some people on board to help overcome these issues.
REP. SIMPSON: I appreciate that. I have one last statement -- or question. I guess this might be for our chairman. We always talk about previous administrations -- it seems like we always talk about previous administrations.
Earlier this year, President Bush took steps to preserve 190,000 square miles across U.S. territories in the South Pacific. Two years ago he did the same thing with another 138,000 square miles north of Hawaii. Taken together, this amounts to an area more than twice the size of the state of California. The areas saved by President Bush are natural aquariums teeming with coral reefs, migrating sharks and tuna. On the small protected islands are the roosts of billions of sea birds.
In these two actions, President Bush preserved more square miles from development than any previous president in history. There is much -- well I just wanted to get it on the record. Now the question: much of the management of this is under Fish and Wildlife Service.
There is nothing in your budget, as I understand, for the increased management that's going to be necessary there.
REP. DICKS: And also there's a ship that sank there that really desperately needs to be removed -- so we've got to figure out a way to solve that problem. I commend the gentleman for mentioning this because it is one of the major accomplishments.
SEC. SALAZAR: I will look into these, Congressman.
REP. SIMPSON: Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. DICKS: Just quickly: we had a hearing with Amnesty International on sexual violence against American Indian and Alaskan native women. It said there are violations to our human rights on many levels, but one example of the significant disparities that exist for American Indian and Alaskan native people in assessing health services and justice in the United States, the vast majority of these crimes will go unpunished.
Then, U.S. Department of Justice's own statistics -- and I think you've kind of mentioned this in your statement -- indicate that Native American Alaska native women are more than -- (inaudible) -- half times more likely than women in the United States, in general, to be raped or sexually assaulted. The agency responsible for responding to this violence is clearly under funded and their services are far from adequate to ensure that the required law enforcement and medical attentions are supplied.
This was very -- I know Mr. Olver was very concerned about this -- all of the members of the committee were very concerned about this.
The other problem we find -- and as former attorney general, you will be very sensitive to this -- most of the people who commit these crimes are non-Indians who come on to the reservation and commit this act. Then, there is no way you can -- the Indian police officers have no jurisdiction over non-Indians under a case that actually was out in my state -- somebody versus Suquamish.
And if there is a criminal conviction, let's say, I think it's the federal court, it's only for -- or if it's in a tribal court -- it's only for one year; a one-year penalty for some of these very heinous crimes.
I know you've got a lot on your plate, but I think this is one where we have to -- and they did a major exercise out in, I think, South Dakota where they brought in adequate law enforcement on the reservation and the level of crime dropped dramatically. So we know that if we do have the law enforcement personnel there, that they can get this under control.
But this is out of control. This is not right and you're just starting out. I hope you will put this on your agenda of things -- it's called, Operation Dakota Peacekeeper, which I'll give you a copy when we're done here.
I hope you'll take this on as a concern -- and you're going to have people, I think, with BIA that will have great experience too, so we'll have good people to work. We want to help you on this.
SEC. SALAZAR: I think it's an American tragedy; it needs to be addressed. It will be very high on my priority and I will work in partnership with the United States Department of Justice as well as with other law enforcement to get the job done.
REP. JOHN OLVER (D-MA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to commend you for your comments about the major Omnibus bill, the land bill. That's a bill that's had probably a hundred different items in it -- Fish and Wildlife Service, national parks, trails, scenic trails, geological trails, historic trails, and so on and so forth. I'm wondering how you managed to find enough funding to handle and start all of those different things that are going to be going on in those areas.
I was particularly interested that there was the Trail of Tears national Historic Trail, which now joins the Chief Joseph Trail in the Northwest, in Oregon and so on. It always seemed to me that there were some other ones that ought to be similarly recognized, like the long walk from Bosque Redondo back to Canyon Bonito in Arizona; or the route of the northern Cheyenne tribes from Indian country up to Montana, a very amazing thing in the late 1880s. There are probably others as well, but those are the ones that quickly come to my mind that ought to be considered.
I'm sort of wondering how you've managed to -- whether the budget is adequate to dealing with all of these new responsibilities that the major units of Department of Interior are going to have to deal with.
SEC. SALAZAR: Congressman Olver, the answer is, no, it is not and that is because the so-called Omnibus Lands Bill -- I wish it had another name because it is such a milestone in our treasured landscapes agenda that we all believe in so much. I think Omnibus just doesn't quite get it. It is a major bill but, as you well know, it is an authorization bill and so, ultimately, we will have to find ways of funding it. It was passed and signed by the President after our 2010 budgets were put together.
That's why I think, with the exception of two India water rights settlements, those budgetary needs are not reflected in the 2010 budget at this point.
REP. OLVER: So we'll have to reflect it in the 2011 budget, those things that are ready to move forward.
SEC. SALAZAR: Yes, unless you can find another way of doing it.
REP. OLVER: Can you give me an idea -- are you in the business of trying to reorganize the offices of the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Parks Service? I don't have any sense of what the math looks like as to where the major administrative offices are, but those are the two largest units of the Department of Interior -- with pieces all over the country, each of them with pieces all over the country.
DLM is more western Indian; DIA is spottily placed; both with not very many units in the eastern part. What I'm getting at is there appears to be a move to close a Boston dear to my heart, an office dear to my heart, namely the Boston offices of the Parks Service to reduce its significance or close it -- something along that line.
I'm wondering if there is a general program that you have for the Department to consider those kinds of reorganizations in Fish and Wildlife Service and Parks Service.
SEC. SALAZAR: Three points, Congressman Olver: first, I am not aware of any position or movement to close any office in the Boston area; two, I don't have anything specific with respect to National Parks and Fish and Wildlife in terms of reorganization; three, I do think that it is important for us, especially at the beginning of this administration, to take a hard look at how we're organized and see whether or not there ways in which we can improve our work.
I will tell you one that is very much on my mind and we have some ideas but they're not yet formulated into any proposal, is how we deal with MMS and DLM on that side of the ledger. On the National Parks side and the Fish and Wildlife side and the Reclamation side, we have regional offices with different regions.
I ask myself a question which I think all of us probably ask ourselves from time to time: why do we have different regions? If we organize them in the right way, would it make more sense if we organize along major watersheds -- are there different ways in which we can do that?
I think it's important at the beginning of an administration to really take a hard look at those issues and I will be doing that once we have our full management team in place.
REP. DICKS: And we look forward to working with you on all of these important issues. Just keep Pam there because she's our -- (inaudible) -- blood.
SEC. SALAZAR: Don't steal her from me.
REP DICKS: We're not going to do that, I will tell you that -- over my dead body. She stays right with you. Anyway, thank you very much and I'm glad you went over and defended your appointee too. I'm glad you had a chance to do that.
SEC. SALAZAR: Thank you very much, Chairman.
REP. DICKS: I want you to know -- he was in that chair, so (laughter). We were beating up on him. We've got to get back, we've got to get back (laughs).
Anyway, I'm sure he'll talk to you about that.
SEC. SALAZAR: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.