- Annual spending bill includes millions for California priorities like fire suppression, water infrastructure, and air quality -
Sep 24 2009
Washington, DC – The Senate has approved the $32.1 billion Fiscal Year 2010 Interior bill by a vote of 77-21, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) announced today. Senator Feinstein chairs the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, which authored the annual spending bill.
Any differences between the House and the Senate versions of the annual spending bill will need to be reconciled in a joint conference committee. The agreed-upon conference bill will then be sent to the House and Senate for an up-or-down vote before it can be sent to the President for his signature.
“I’m very proud that the Senate voted today to make a renewed commitment to America’s national parks, forests, seashores and other federal lands. The bill will also make major investments in clean drinking water and sewer infrastructure improvements to ensure that more Americans have access to a reliable water supply. And it will boost federal funding for critical programs in Indian Country,” Senator Feinstein said. “This Interior appropriations bill is the biggest investment in America’s public infrastructure in the history of the Subcommittee. I’d like to once again extend my thanks to Ranking Member Alexander for his support and assistance in crafting this important bill.”
The subcommittee’s 302(b) allocation is $32.1 billion in non-emergency, discretionary spending. That amount is $4.5 billion, or 16 percent, above the equivalent 2009 enacted level, and $225 million, or 0.7 percent, below the president’s request.
Among some of the bill’s key funding provisions:
- $3.6 billion for wastewater and drinking water infrastructure – an increase of $1.6 billion, or 119 percent, above the enacted 2009 level.
- $1.8 billion for Interior Department and Forest Service fire suppression activities – an increase of $527 million, or 40 percent, above the enacted 2009 level.
- $6 billion for basic operations at National Parks, National Forests, and National Wildlife Refuges and on Bureau of Land Management lands – an increase of $350 million, or 6 percent, above the enacted 2009 level.
- $6.6 billion for the Indian Health Service and the Bureau of Indian Affairs – an increase of $670 million, or 11 percent, above the enacted 2009 level.
Below are some of the highlights of the funding provisions included in the bill. A detailed summary of the bill is available online at the Senate Appropriations Committee website (http://appropriations.senate.gov/).
The bill includes a total of $3.6 billion for wastewater and drinking water infrastructure. That’s an increase of $1.9 billion, or 119 percent, above the enacted 2009 level.
“Too many Americans lack access to clean and reliable water. That’s unacceptable,” Senator Feinstein said. “The projects funded by this bill will help communities across the country invest in 1,327 critical drinking water and sewer infrastructure projects. It will also have the benefit of generating thousands of new jobs. So it is a win-win.”
The bill also contains significant funding for California water infrastructure projects requested by Senator Feinstein, including:
- $1,000,000 for the East Palo Alto Water Supply Improvement Project (East Palo Alto, CA)
- $1,000,000 for the Martin Slough Interceptor Project (Eureka, CA) (jointly requested with Senator Boxer)
- $1,250,000 for the Santa Monica Water System Reliability Project (Santa Monica, CA)
- $1,000,000 for Elk Trail Water System Improvements (Shasta County, CA)
- $1,000,000 for the South Orange Coastal Ocean Water Desalination Project (Fountain Valley, CA) (jointly requested with Senator Boxer)
- $1,000,000 for Westminster Stormwater System Improvements (Westminster, CA)
- $6,000,000 for the San Francisco Bay Restoration Grants (President’s budget included $5 million; Senator Feinstein requested an additional $1 million)
Firefighting and fuels reduction on federal lands:
“The threat of wildfires is only growing in the West. One of the most important steps we can take to reduce the threat of the catastrophic wildfires is to eliminate hazardous fuels like dead and dying trees and brush. The funding in this bill will allow the Forest Service and the Interior Department to reduce those fuels on 3.5 million acres of fire-prone federal lands,” Senator Feinstein said. “And for the first time in more than 10 years, this bill will also provide federal firefighters with sufficient suppression funds -- $1.8 billion – so they won’t have to borrow from other federal accounts. So, the funding in this bill will not only help reduce the threat of fires, it will also equip our firefighters with the resources they need to fight fires when they do occur.”
The bill provides a total of $1.8 billion for Interior Dept and Forest Service fire suppression activities. That’s an increase of $527 million, or 40 percent, above the 2009 level. It includes a total of $556 million for hazardous fuels reduction work on federal lands, an increase of $36 million, or 7 percent, above the budget request.
The bill includes $10 million for the newly authorized Forest Landscape Restoration Act, which was enacted as part of the Omnibus Public Lands bill of 2009. The new law established a funding mechanism for consensus-based forest restoration projects for 50,000 acres or more (landscape-scale) that are designed to benefit local economies.
The bill also contains millions in funding requested by Senator Feinstein for California projects to help address the threat of catastrophic fires, including:
- $5,000,000 for the Lake Tahoe Community Fire Protection Project to help water agencies in the Tahoe Basin improve their water distribution systems in order to better prepare for fire danger (President’s budget requested $1 million; Senators Feinstein and Boxer jointly requested an additional $4 million)
- $5,000,000 for California Fire Safe Councils Community Fire Risk Reduction Grants to implement community fire plans (President’s budget requested $3 million; Senator Feinstein requested $2 million)
- $2,500,000 for small forest products infrastructure assistance grants to clear U.S. Forest Service lands of hazardous fuels and provide assistance to transport the fuels to sawmills
- $500,000 for the Calaveras Healthy Impact Product Solutions (CHIPS) biomass program to decrease the risk of catastrophic fire in Calaveras County
The bill includes $10 million in emissions reductions grants for California: $5 million for the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District and $5 million for the South Coast Air Quality Management District – both of which have pollution levels that are ranked among the worst in the nation.
The bill also includes a new $10 million competitive grant program for air quality districts ranked in the top five for annual ozone or particulate matter pollution, for which multiple California air districts can compete.
“The air quality in California’s San Joaquin Valley and the South Coast region is among the worst in the country,” Senator Feinstein said. “The bill will help these communities complete the urgent and difficult task of achieving Clean Air Act attainment status – which will help improve public health and reduce smog-related illnesses in these two regions.”
Hunter’s Point Naval Shipyard Cleanup:
The bill includes $8 million for Hunters Point Naval Shipyard Remediation in San Francisco, CA. This funding is consistent with the previous two years of enacted federal spending in the Interior bill.
“The former naval shipyard at Hunter’s Point has the potential to be a source of jobs, economic development, parks and affordable housing for the community of San Francisco,” Senator Feinstein said. “These funds will ensure that the federal government does its part in the ongoing cleanup at Hunters Point.”
Bolstering our public land management agencies:
The bill provides a total of $6 billion for basic operations at National Parks, National Forests, National Wildlife Refuges and on Bureau of Land Management lands. That’s an increase of $350 million, or 6 percent, above the 2009 level, and includes $160 million to cover the full amount of fixed costs incurred by the agencies.
The funding in the bill will allow, for example, the National Park Service to retain 3,000 park rangers, law enforcement rangers and maintenance personnel as part of the Service-wide effort to prepare the parks for the Centennial in 2016. The Fish and Wildlife Service will receive the funding necessary to conduct endangered species consultations, habitat conservation projects and address in earnest its climate change initiative.
Protecting public lands through the Land and Water Conservation Fund:
The bill provides a total of $419 million for Land and Water Conservation Fund activities. That’s an increase of $127 million, or 43 percent, above the 2009 level. Direct protection and conservation of land through acquisitions at the 4 federal land management agencies totals $262 million. In addition, the bill provides $55 million for conservation easements through the Forest Legacy program; $54 million through the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund for acquisitions associated with Habitat Conservation Plans; and $35 million for state grants through the Park Service’s State Assistance program.
Helping the most vulnerable in Indian Country:
The bill provides a total of $6.6 billion for the Indian Health Service and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. That’s an increase of $670 million, or 11 percent, above the equivalent 2009 level. Of that amount, $4 billion is provided for IHS health programs, including increases over the 2009 level of $154 million for hospital and health clinic care, and $144 million for off-reservation contract care.
The bill also provides $2.6 billion for the education, law enforcement, and economic development programs under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Increases over the 2009 level include $81 million, or 11 percent, for K-12 and tribal college programs, and $83 million, or 27 percent for law enforcement. The law enforcement increase include additional funding for hiring of police officers to combat the growing methamphetamine problem, and well as increased staffing at BIA and tribal detention centers.
Civil Rights Oral History Project:
The bill includes a provision that was unanimously approved by the Senate to direct $250,000 in Smithsonian salaries and expenses to a Civil Rights Oral History Project. The project is a joint effort between the Smithsonian Institution and the Library of Congress, to collect oral histories of those involved in the Civil Rights Movement and preserve them for future generations.
“Society as we know it would not be possible without the courageous individuals who dedicated themselves to the Civil Rights Movement,” Senator Feinstein said. “They risked their lives to bring real and necessary change to our nation. Today’s vote helps to ensure that we never forget their stories.”
Senator Feinstein was the lead Senate sponsor of the measure that authorized the project, which was signed into law on May 12, 2009 (P.L. 111-19). The legislation was co-sponsored by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn); Thad Cochran (R-Miss.); Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.); and Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) and Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) were the lead authors in the House of Representatives.