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House Panel Tells Interior - Don't Spend Money on "Wild Lands"

April 12, 2011 - 1:49 PM


Government Affairs Committee


Kris Ballweg, Director, Government Affairs


April 12, 2011


Final FY 2011 Continuing Resolution Summary


Early this morning, the House Appropriations Committee released the “Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011,” (H.R. 1473), to fund the federal government for the remaining six months of the fiscal year (FY).  More commonly known as the continuing resolution (CR), the legislation, which can be found here, would cut nearly $40 billion as agreed to late last Friday evening by President Obama, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.


A preliminary review of the document reveals several funding items and policy provisions that are of interest to the mining community. 


Interior, Environment and Related Agencies


The bill provides $29.6 billion in funding for Interior, Environment and Related Agencies.  This represents a decline in spending of $2.6 billion, or 8 percent, from FY 2010 funding levels. 


Funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is reduced by $1.6 billion over FY 2010 funding levels, a reduction of 16 percent.  While a majority of these spending reductions come from State and Tribal Assistance Grants, the CR also cuts $10 million and rejects the administration’s request for an additional $82 million in grants to help states implement new air pollution rules from EPA.  Climate change funding for EPA and the Department of the Interior has been cut by $49 million, or 13 percent.


On the policy front, the bill contains several funding limitations of particular interest to the mining community. 


Sec. 1769 prohibits the use of funds to implement, administer or enforce Secretarial Order No. 3310 issued by the Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar on Dec. 23, 2010, directing the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to designate public lands as “wild lands” for the remainder of FY 2011. The policy would allow the Bureau of Land Management to put new conservation designations on federal land without additional legislation from Congress, leaving thousands of acres of federal lands off-limits to minerals extraction.  


The CR also includes a provision requiring the Secretary Salazar to reissue an April 2009 final rule by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to delist the gray wolf in states with approved management plans.  This change would return the management of the wolf populations to the state in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Utah.


Additionally, the bill would block funding, through the end of September, for the National Climate Service, a policy priority of the administration for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  This prohibition in funds is in addition to a $140 million cut from FY 2010 funding and the denial of an additional $1 billion for new weather and climate satellites.  The bill would also bar funding for the post of “Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change,” a position that is currently vacant but was previously held by Carol Browner.


Energy & Water Development


A total of $31.8 billion is included in the bill for energy and water programs.  This is a decrease of $1.7 billion, or 5 percent, below the FY 2010 funding level.


Fossil Energy R&D

The bill includes $586 million for the Department of Energy (DOE) Fossil Energy Research and Development (R&D) program.  This level is consistent with the president’s FY 2011 request, although a decrease of $86 million over FY 2010 spending levels.  The bill also rescinds $30 million in unobligated funds from the Fossil Energy R&D program, as well as $17 million in unobligated funds from the Clean Coal Technology program.


Army Corp of Engineers

The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers will receive $1.79 billion for construction and $127 million for investigations.  The continuing resolution, however, includes no earmark funding and eliminates all previous earmarks funding from FY 2010. 


Labor, Health and Human Services


Mine Safety and Health Administration

The Department of Labor’s (DOL) Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) will be funded at level of $363.8 million, an increase of $6.5 million over FY 2010.  Of these funds, $3 million shall be made available for DOL activities related to the caseload before the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission.  Additionally, no funds have been included to continue the project with the United Mine Workers of America for classroom and simulated rescue training for mine rescue teams, which results in a decrease of $1.45 million in funding.




The House Rules Committee will meet today, Tuesday, April 12, at 5:00 p.m. to review H.R. 1473, which is expected to be considered on the House floor on Thursday.  The Senate is expected to vote on final passage on Friday.  Late last Friday, the House and Senate passed a short-term CR funding the federal government through Friday, April 15, at midnight.


Please contact me via e-mail at kballweg@nma.org or via telephone at (202) 463-2622 if you have any questions or would like additional information.

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