Statement of Donald Paul Hodel

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Source: 99th Congress, 1st Session. Department of Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations FY86, Part 1. Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senate Hearing 99-97. February 19, 26, 28, March 5, 6, 19, 21, 1985.


I am pleased to appear before you today, as the Secretary of the Interior, in support of the President's FY 1986 Budget for the Department. During my tenure as the Secretary of Energy and as Under Secretary of the Interior, I sought to establish a good working relationship with this Subcommittee. Now, at the beginning of President Reagan's second term, I have been given the privilege of serving as Secretary of the Interior and of having the opportunity to work with you to resolve the critical resource issues confronting this Nation.

I have the good fortune of having some familiarity with the Department of the Interior. Having spent 21 months as Under Secretary, and having served for six years as Administrator of the Bonneville Power Administration, I recognize many of the current issue categories. However, I have to learn — and in some cases relearn — specifics. In that process, I look forward to working with the knowledgeable, dedicated professionals at the Department.

I believe the Nation is best served when we have a clear consensus on broad policies that govern the everyday actions of the Executive branch. The Nation is not well served by emotional confrontation or impasse on basic policy.

My goal at the Department is to build a national consensus on the broad policy issues which face the Department. I intend to do this by effectively communicating the Administration's priorities; consulting early and frequently with the Congress, State and local governments, and other interested parties; and striving to reach a consensus on the President's broad policy objectives:

  • conserving the Nation's national park, wilderness and wildlife resources;
  • enhancing America's ability to meet our energy and mineral needs with domestic resources;
  • increasing the supply of quality water resources;
  • improving the Federal Government's relationship with State and local governments; and
  • developing the economic and social resources of American Indians, Alaska Natives, and the people of the U.S. Territories.

Certainly I recognize there will be conflicts and controversies surrounding individual actions and peripheral issues — that is the nature of the issues facing this Department. But, at the same time, I want to work closely with you in establishing the broad national resource policies that reflect the values, needs, and wishes of the American people.

The 1986 budget reflects not only the Administration's objectives, but also the overriding financial realities we face as a Nation — a budget deficit which totals $180 billion. This deficit requires making, and through this budget we have made, difficult policy choices. Those choices have meant reducing or eliminating many programs which have produced tangible benefits and which, evaluated on their own merits in a different budget context, would be funded. The details of the budget have to be considered, however, not in isolation but, rather, in the context of the financial realities with which we must grapple. If there is consensus on one broad national policy, it is the need to reduce the deficit.

It is with this consensus regarding deficit reduction in mind that I have reviewed the Interior Department's budget and programs for FY 1986. This budget, $5.6 billion in budget authority and $6.2 billion in outlays, will allow us to exercise our stewardship responsibilities. The reductions of 15 percent in budget authority and 10 percent in outlays from the FY 1985 levels will require us to be more efficient and innovative in order to do all that we would agree is desirable. These reductions will require us to recognize more fully the appropriate role and responsibility of State and local governments and to cooperate more effectively with the private sector.

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For programs under the jurisdiction of this Subcommittee, we are requesting $3.6 billion, a reduction of $728 million from the 1985 enacted appropriations of $4.3 billion. In addition, we are asking that you rescind $66.6 million of 1985 appropriations and approve 1985 supplemental appropriations of $7.6 million and transfers amounting to $46.2 million in 1985 and $4.9 million in 1986.

The major elements accounting for a reduced Interior budget are as follows:

Land Acquisition

It is our policy to continue acquisition of lands for park, refuge and wilderness purposes. The budget request we have before you will permit us to continue the most important acquisitions. We are proposing to defer other acquisitions for a three-year period. This three-year moratorium will save $148 million in 1986 in the Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Park Service.

We believe this deferral will not impair the primary missions of the Department or affect ongoing operating programs. First, we are requesting $13 million for deficiencies, emergencies, and administrative costs.

Second, the Department will continue to emphasize the acquisition of lands through means other than Federal appropriations, for example, through donations and exchanges for parklands, wetlands, wildlife refuges and other recreation lands. During the past four years, over 10,000 acres of park lands have been acquired in this manner. In addition, nearly 1.1 million acres of refuge lands have been donated or acquired through exchange including 972,000 acres donated by Alaska for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Third, self-financing mechanisms, such as the Federal Duck Stamp Program, will continue to generate revenues to acquire lands for the National Wildlife Refuge System.

From 1981 through 1984, $517 million was obligated to acquire approximately 64,000 acres of park land, 242,000 acres of wetlands and other refuge lands, including 170,000 acres purchased through the Migratory Bird Conservation Account, and 16,000 acres of other recreational lands. Further funding for land acquisition amounting to $177 million is available with 1985 appropriations and Duck Stamp receipts, for a total investment of nearly $700 million through 1985.

Water Programs

Providing an adequate supply of clean water is an important resource challenge facing all levels of government, local, State and Federal, in the coming decades. Although current supplies are adequate in most regions, conflicting demands for water are approaching the limits of what current development can supply at low cost. In some cases, groundwater supplies are being depleted or threatened by contamination. Water delivery and treatment systems in certain areas of the country are deteriorating. In other areas, more storage and delivery systems are needed.

This Administration, recognizing the primacy of State water law, has made a good start in addressing pressing water resource issues. We are now prepared, within existing resources and in close cooperation with the States, to develop a water management strategy in the national interest. This strategy must look at the issues of water quantity, quality, and cost, together, not as separate concerns.

It is imperative that we as a Nation revitalize the magnificent water development programs launched earlier in our history. The Federal-State partnership in water development has succeeded even beyond the dreams of those who developed the concept decades ago. This partnership has helped create abundant year-round water, electric and food supplies; reduced flooding; and provided vast new opportunities for water-related recreation.

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I am committed to working with the Congress, the States, local entities, and the private sector to move forward in developing much needed, environmentally sound, and economically prudent water resource projects. We will continue to seek new partnership arrangements with States and other non-Federal interests in the financing and cost sharing of new projects, taking into account prior commitments.

An important contributor to our water program goals is the budget of the Bureau of Reclamation, which reflects outlays of about $1 billion in FY 1986. Within this total, construction outlays are projected at $700 million, the same level as 1985. Our budget authority request for this purpose is $532 million, a $205 million reduction below the 1985 estimate. This level of funding will contribute to our deficit reduction efforts, but at the same time maintain a viable reclamation program which has been of such vital importance in the development of the West.

Although the budget for the Bureau of Reclamation does not fall under the jurisdiction of this Subcommittee, I will quickly mention its major features in order to provide a comprehensive view of our overall budget request.

This budget request provides for continuation of 57 projects already underway in 1985 and for three construction initiatives: the enlargement of Buffalo Bill Dam and Powerplant in Wyoming; construction of power generating facilities at Headgate Rock Dam for the Colorado River Indian Reservation in Arizona; and the construction and uprating of facilities at the Hoover Dam in southern Nevada. Preconstruction activities will be underway on two projects, the Narrows Unit and the Uintah Unit, and work will begin on one rehabilitation and betterment project, the Crooked River Irrigation District, and up to three safety of dams projects.


The 1986 request for construction programs other than in the Bureau of Reclamation is $125 million, a reduction of $108 million from the 1985 appropriated amount of $133 million. The request provides for essential rehabilitation and repairs, including the correction of dam safety problems on refuges and Indian lands. Continued funding also will be provided for Indian water rights settlements, to provide needed employee housing at remote locations, and to provide essential utility improvements.

The funding reduction supports our deficit reduction goals, and, at the same time, in our view, is less harmful than disrupting ongoing operations. Most of the reduction occurs in two areas: first, in the National Park Service, a $61 million reduction and a 1986 level of $50 million is proposed, second, in the Bureau of Indian Affairs, where a $38 million reduction and a 1986 level of $70 million is proposed.

Further, as with land acquisition, it is important to consider that our FY 1986 construction program is proposed in the context of the slightly more than $1 billion obligated for this purpose in 1981-1984 and the fact that $245 million is available for this purpose in FY 1985. These large investments in prior years exemplified by the PRIP program, give us the opportunity to carry out programs effectively in FY 1986 at reduced levels of new appropriations.

Interchange of Bureau of Land Management and Forst Service Lands

The 1986 budget reflects an Administration proposal to rationalize the management of certain lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and by the Forest Service (FS) of the Department of Agriculture. This proposal is consistent with the Administration's land management policy of establishing its contiguous areas of public lands sufficient in size to achieve economies of scale, eliminate public confusion over management responsibility and facilitate public use. Currently, lands managed by these organizations are intermingled, necessary economies, are not achieved, services are duplicated, and confusion regarding management policies exists.

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