Interior Dept. Budget Request Supports Energy Dominance

Mar 12, 2019

National Park Service funding in 2020 plan
Credit U.S. Department of the Interior

The Interior Department's Acting Secretary David Bernhardt released his first budget request to Congress. The 2020 financial plan promotes an "all of the above" domestic energy strategy. For Interior, that would mean adding hundreds of millions of dollars into streamlining oil and gas drilling and coal mining on public lands. It would also support increased logging within national parks.

The Interior Department wrote that the budget ensures safety and security on public lands, while reducing unnecessary regulatory burdens. It added the plan expands access to outdoor recreation and ensures safety on public lands.

Aaron Weiss, deputy director of advocacy group Center for Western Priorities, said conservation efforts were not a priority.

"This budget makes it clear they see public lands as a canvas for extraction and not as America's natural heritage to be conserved and handed down to future generations," Weiss said.

The department would zero out federal funds to the Land and Water Conservation Fund. It would make over ten million dollars of cuts to protections for coastlines. It would also cut the National Park Service's budget by 17 percent, mostly in construction and park maintenance.

"The fact they're throwing more money at a non-problem while at the same time eviscerating funding for our national parks-that is really telling as to where David Bernhardt's priorities are," Weiss said.

The Interior Department requested about $30 million for a renewable energy program. It hopes to support timely processing of leases for wind, solar and other renewable projects.

The request lands in the House of Representatives first and will likely be completely reshaped.