Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said July 29 that her department is one of the few federal entities that generates more income than it take in, thanks in large part to energy and fuel production on federal lands.
Jewell also said in a conference call with reporters that budget cuts proposed in a House markup bill would take the Interior Department back to 2002 funding levels. Such deep budget cuts could slow progress on everything from renewable energy development to fossil fuel extraction on public lands.
President Obama has proposed a FY2014 budget of $11.9bn budget for Interior while a House panel has proposed a budget of 12% less – a plan that would cut funds for offshore energy development by 10%, Jewell said.
The activities of the Department of the Interior contributed $371bn to the U.S. economy in 2012, supporting 2.3 million jobs in activities including outdoor recreation and tourism, energy development, grazing and timber harvest, according to Interior’s economic report for FY 2012.
Energy produced from Interior lands in FY 2012 included 626 million barrels of crude oil, 5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and 460 million tons of coal — contributed $230bn to the national economy and supported 1.2 million jobs.
Some average prices in FY 2012 included $94/bbl for oil, $2.66/mcf of natural gas, and $10 per ton of Powder River Basin coal.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and other Interior agencies approved the installation of 315 MW of wind capacity and 489 MW of solar power projects on public lands during the fiscal year. In addition, Bureau of Reclamation facilities produced 47.5 terawatt hours of hydropower in 2012. These renewable energy activities contributed $4.4bn to the economy and supported 18,000 jobs, Jewell said.
This report represents the fourth in a series of annual economic reports initiated with a preliminary report released by Interior in December 2009. The report for FY 2012 includes chapters on recreation, conservation, energy, non-fuels minerals, and tribal economies as well as key outputs and trends associated with each output.
Every Interior bureau engages in some form of restoration from physical structures to ecological and human use resources. For example, BLM’s Abandoned Mine Lands Program has compiled a database of nearly 40,000 sites to be restored, and the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) has a target of 14,000 acres to be reclaimed from the effects of coal mining, according to the economic report.