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FY 15 Interior budget stresses economic benefits

So much for environmental protection or recreation. The Interior Department budget is “a driver of jobs
and economic activity in communities across the country,” stated Sally Jewell, secretary of the Interior. Jewell was making her case for the FY 15 budget before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment & Related Agencies. She gave her testimony on Wednesday, March 26.

Given the tenor of the times, getting funding from Congress means creating jobs, not serving the mission the jobs are supposed to carry out. “Interior’s programs and activities serve as economic engines in communities across the nation, contributing an estimated $371 billion to the economy in 2012 and supporting an estimated 2.3 million American jobs,” Jewell testified before mentioning any conservation or park activities.

The Department of the Interior has proposed an $11.9 billion budget for FY 15, a 2.4 percent increase over FY 14. (See story linked to below for background.) Most of the increase would go toward putting out fire emergencies, though.

The request includes action needed by Congress to improve the visitor infrastructure for national parks and increase funding for the Land & Wildlife Conservation Fund. The administration proposes $900 million for the fund.

“In advance of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016, the 2015 budget proposes a comprehensive Centennial Initiative investment in the parks and public lands,” Jewell said. The initiative would enhance educational programs in the parks, use volunteers, provide training for youth and more.

Watch or read Jewell's testimony at

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