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Senate Appropriations Committee Approves $32.1 Billion FY 2010 Interior Appropriations Bill

- Annual spending bill includes millions for California priorities like fire suppression, water infrastructure, and air quality -

Washington, DC – The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved the $32.1 billion Fiscal Year 2010 Interior bill, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) announced today. Senator Feinstein chairs the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, which authored the annual spending bill.

The bill will require approval by the full Senate before it can be reconciled with the House version of the spending bill in conference. 

“This spending bill represents the largest investment in public infrastructure in the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee’s history -- and will also help generate new jobs to put more Americans back to work. It makes a strong commitment to improved water and sewer infrastructure; makes major investments for fire suppression and hazardous fuels reduction on federal lands; and protects some of our nation’s most sensitive public lands from development and pollution. The bill also includes significant increases for Indian health and other tribal services to help meet the needs of some the most vulnerable citizens,” Senator Feinstein said. “I’m proud of the work we’ve done to put this bill together, and I’d like to extend my thanks to Ranking Member Alexander for all of his input and support.”

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 Dept 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, 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/).

Water Infrastructure: 

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 of our communities struggle with the task of providing a reliable and safe water supply. With these funds, an additional 1,372 water and sewer systems will be repaired or replaced in communities all across the nation. This will also have the added benefit of creating thousands of much-needed construction jobs to put more Americans back to work,” Senator Feinstein said. “If you add these funds to $6.4 billion provided for earlier this year in the stimulus bill, there is now more than $10 billion in federal dollars that will be available for water and sewer projects this calendar year.  So, this is a major commitment to shoring up our water infrastructure.”

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 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.  The bill also provides 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 also 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 drought-stricken West has experienced a surge of catastrophic forest fires – and the problem is only expected to get worse because of global warming. Yet the federal budget for fuels reduction and firefighting has been consistently underfunded for the past few years,” Senator Feinstein said. “The good news is that the Subcommittee today approved $1.8 billion for fire suppression and $556 million for hazardous fuels reduction. This amount is consistent with the funding that has actually been spent on firefighting in each of the last 3 years, and these funding levels mean that the Forest Service and the Interior Dept should have all the resources they need for fire suppression and will not be forced to borrow funds for other accounts.  In addition, the funds provided for hazardous fuels will enable the Forest Service and Interior Dept to treat 3.5 million acres of fire-prone federal lands, and improve the conditions on another 1.7 million acres.”

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

Air Quality:

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.

“California’s San Joaquin Valley and the South Coast region have some of the worst air pollution in the country,” Senator Feinstein said. “These funds will help these communities meet the urgent and difficult task of achieving Clean Air Act attainment status. This will also help improve public health and reduce smog-related illnesses in these 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 City of San Francisco has made a commitment to cleaning up and transforming the former Navy shipyard into a source of jobs, economic development, parks and affordable housing – and the federal government must continue to do its part,” Senator Feinstein said. “These funds will allow for the continued cleanup of Hunters Point and help generate much-needed jobs, economic development, and affordable housing for the community.”

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.


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