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Press Release

Secretary Zinke Touts Administration’s Progress to Enhance Public Access to Public Lands

Today, the House Committee on Natural Resources received testimony from Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Ryan Zinke on the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget request and DOI’s policy priorities.  

“Interior’s 2019 budget prioritizes American interests with targeted investments to advance American energy dominance, enhance public access to public lands, and strengthen the economy through infrastructure investment, regulatory relief, and fiscal responsibility,” Zinke stated.

DOI’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget request highlights the critical role of energy development on federal lands in strengthening national security, supporting job creation and providing expanded revenues to the federal government and states.

“The policy of this President is all-of-the-above energy. Energy dominance is national security – morally it is right, environmentally it is right and economically it is right. It’s better to produce energy in this country under reasonable regulations than watch it be produced overseas with no regulations,” Zinke stated.

Chairman Emeritus Don Young (R-AK) praised the Administration for responsibly developing resources in order to increase investments in a range of priorities, including maintaining and conserving public lands.

We’ve got a secretary who understands public lands, and where the wealth of this nation comes from… It comes from the land,” Young said.

To help reduce DOI’s $16 billion deferred maintenance backlog wreaking havoc on America’s public lands, the Administration’s budget request proposes a Public Lands Infrastructure Fund, with funding derived from energy leases on federal lands.

Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) lauded the Administration’s commitment to prioritizing the maintenance backlog and criticized disingenuous opposition to the proposal.   

Some have criticized your proposal for its reliance on oil and gas revenues as its funding mechanism. Ironically, many of these same special interest groups have led the charge for permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a program that is almost entirely funded by oil and gas development on federal lands,” Bishop stated.

Secretary Zinke also outlined progress with plans for reorganization of the Department to streamline bureaucracy, improve conservation activities and expand local input in federal land management decisions.  

“What we’re proposing is a thing called science. We’re basing our regions on science… so all of our Departments are unified and can talk to each other focused on three things: recreation, NEPA and permitting,” Zinke said.

Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources Chairman Paul Gosar (R-AZ) thanked Zinke for proposing the largest organizational shakeup in history, making it a “bottom-up instead of a top-down” federal agency.

“That makes a world of difference for trying to get the West looking like it should. Thank you,” Gosar added.

Click here for additional information on today’s hearing.