US DoI proposes US$73m for renewable energy

President Obama’s proposed budget for DoI is a “fiscally responsible plan that will enable the nation’s largest land manager to carry out its stewardship responsibilities more effectively, while making strategic investments in priority initiatives that address major challenges facing the nation,” says its secretary Ken Salazar.

The budget proposes investments for high priority goals and initiatives that move DoI in a new direction.

An initiative called New Energy Frontier will create clean and renewable sources of energy using the country’s vast domestic resources, while continuing to develop conventional energy supplies. The initiative is designed to create jobs, reduces dependence on foreign oil and reduces carbon emissions.

The proposed budget includes US$3m for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to focus on environmental elements of renewable energy projects and US$3.2m for Minerals Management Service (MMS) region-specific planning needs.

It also includes US$3m for the Geological Survey (USGS) to analyse and document the effects of renewable energy on wildlife populations, and US$4m for the Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) to conduct endangered species consultations and help plan and design renewable energy projects that are wildlife friendly.

Conventional energy

The budget also continues support for development of conventional energy sources, including an additional US$10m for a Royalty-in-Kind programme and US$1.5m more for conventional energy leasing activities on the Fort Berthold Reservation. It proposes additional user fees to offset oil and gas programmes, and wants inspection fees on Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas facilities to be doubled to yield US$20m this year, with a comparable new fee for BLM onshore oil and gas inspections to yield another US$10m this year.

The Administration’s request for DoI contains US$750m in reductions and terminations of low-priority programmes and elimination of one-time funding. The 2011 budget is US$38.7m (0.3%) below the level enacted by Congress for 2010, and includes revenue of US$11.6 bn from the sale of oil and natural gas resources.

Climate change

The budget includes an integrated strategy for climate change adaptation with a proposed budget of US$171m, up US$35m over 2010, to carry out an integrated programme. Its budget for water issues is US$73m, an increase of US$36m over 2010, with other measures including US$45m to engage, employ and educate youth and US$2.6bn to honour commitments to Indian and Native communities.

Performance measures

DoI will gauge its progress in achieving high priority goals for renewable energy development and other measures through a series of High Priority Performance Goals. The budget reflects the tough economic realities of the times and underscores Interior’s efforts to be fiscally responsible.

Other budget proposals are increases of US$11.8m to promote development of both renewable energy and conventional energy on tribal lands, and to assist tribes with dam safety.