Department of Interior FY2017 Budget Request

Budget numbers are the current budget authority, not adjusted for mandatory current accounts or discretionary receipt offsets. 

Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, testified before the Senate Energy & Natural Resources (ENR) hearing on the DOI’s budget request for FY2017 on February 23, 2016. It is $61 million above 2016 enacted. The current budget authority includes $13.4 billion in net discretionary spending for its programs, with $290 million available for catastrophic fires.


The FY2017 proposed investments lay the groundwork for promoting renewable energy development, managing the nation’s lands responsibly, helping to protect communities in the face of climate change, and investing in science to inform natural resource management. The budget features investments to launch the second century of the national parks and expand public accessibility to and enjoyment of America’s public lands. It supports tribal priorities in Indian Country, including a $1.1 billion investment to transform Indian schools and education, and provides full funding for tribal contract support costs.


The request addresses significant national resource challenges, including water availability, particularly in the arid western states, and makes important investments in America’s water infrastructure.

The FY2017 budget includes $1 billion for research and development activities throughout the Interior Department, an increase of $84.5 million from the FY2016 enacted level. Activities supported include scientific analysis of natural systems and applied field research to address specific problems, such as thawing permafrost, invasive species, and flooding.


$160.6 million will be invested in landscape scale efforts to address the complex natural resource issues facing the Arctic.


With multiple science programs in the department’s bureaus and offices, science coordination remains a critical component in the process of effective science application. Interior is well served by the deployment of science advisors in each bureau.


Bureau of Land Management – $1.3 billion

The FY2017 BLM budget request for current appropriations is $1.3 billion ($7.1 million above 2016 enacted).


Neil Kornze, BLM Director, made a statement about the BLM FY2017 budget request during a House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies budget hearing on March 3, 2016. Kornze said the budget request positions the agency for success by further strengthening the administration’s commitments in the following areas:

  • Restoring the sage-steppe ecosystem.
  • Promoting responsible energy development and modernizing regulations.
  • Supporting BLMs’ National Conservation Lands.
  • Better managing the unsustainable growth of the wild horse and burro populations on western public lands.
  • Permanently funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund.


The change in total program resources from FY2016 to FY2017 is somewhat larger, as the budget proposes offsetting user fees in the Rangeland Management and Oil and Gas Management programs that reduce requested funds by $64.5 million. The budget requests $107 million for the Oregon and California Grant Lands appropriation. The budget also proposes $44 million in discretionary funding for Land Acquisition, to complement $44.8 million proposed in mandatory Land Acquisition funding.


Kornze detailed his agency’s budget commitments. Relevant areas are highlighted below.




promoting responsible energy development and modernizing regulations

The budget strongly supports strengthening the management of onshore oil and gas development. Current regulations must be updated to reflect advancements in measurement technology, industry standards and practices, and applicable new legal requirements.


The budget request includes an increase of $2.8 million to enhance BLM’s capability to address high-priority legacy wells that pose environmental hazards in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. These legacy well cleanup funds supplement permanent mandatory funds provided by the Helium Stewardship Act of 2013.

As with prior budget requests, the FY2017 budget continues to request authority to charge onshore inspection fees similar to those already in place for offshore oil and gas inspections, which will reduce the net cost to taxpayers.


It will also allow BLM to be more responsive to industry demand and an increased future inspection workload while reducing the need for current discretionary appropriations that could otherwise be directed toward other priority programs.


Other priority Initiatives

$6.9 million increase to accelerate the implementation of the BLM enterprise geographic information system (GIS), which aggregates data across boundaries to capture ecological conditions and trends, natural and human influences, and opportunities for resources for resource conservation, restoration, development and partnering.


$5.7 million for high priority planning efforts that could include the initiation of new plan revisions in 2017, as well as plan evaluations and implementation strategies.

Kornze also described a package of legislative reforms and administration actions that would strengthen Interior’s management of onshore and offshore oil and gas programs, and focus on improving the taxpayer return from federal resources leasing, as well as transparency and oversight.



The proposals fall into three general categories:

  • Royalty reforms– Evaluate minimum royalty rates for oil, gas, and similar products; adjust the onshore royalty rate; analyze a price-based tiered royalty rate; and repeal legislatively mandated royalty relief.
  • Oil and gas lease development– Shorter primary lease terms, stricter enforcement of lease terms, and monetary incentives to get leases into production, such as a new per-acre fee on nonproducing leases.
  • Improved revenue collection process– Simplified royalty valuation process and permanent repeal of Interior’s authority to accept in-kind royalty payments.


Bureau of ocean energy management – $175.1 million

The 2017 budget request for BOEM is $80 million in current appropriations and $95 million in offsetting collections from rental receipts and cost recoveries. The FY2017 budget is $4.3 million above 2016 enacted level.


The total FY2017 estimate of $94.9 million for offsetting collections reflects a net decrease of $1.7 million from the 2016 estimate. This decrease primarily reflects a $4.5 million reduction in rental receipts that is partially offset by a new cost recovery fee of $2.9 million for the Risk Management Program. An increase in direct appropriations of $6.0 million makes up for the projected decrease in rental receipts.


Renewable energy

$23.9 million for renewable energy activities, which $412,000 below 2016 enacted.


Conventional Energy

$64.2 million for conventional energy development, which is $4.2 million above 2016. These funds support high priority offshore oil and gas development activities, including lease sales outlined in BOEM’s Five Year OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012-2017.


Preparation of the next Five Year Program, to encompass the 2017-2022 timeframe, commenced with a request for information and comments in June 2014. A total of 14 potential lease sales in eight planning areas—ten within the Gulf of Mexico, three off the coast of Alaska, and one in a portion of the mid and south Atlantic—is included in the Draft Proposed Program.


Environmental programs

$68.4 million ($299,000 above 2016 enacted). These funds support world class scientific research designed to provide critical information to inform policy decisions regarding energy and mineral development in the OCS.


Executive direction

$18.7 million, same as 2016 enacted. This activity funds functions such as the budget planning and execution processes, administrative services, bureau-wide information technology management and governance, congressional and public affairs, policy analysis, regulations, policy guidance and overall leadership within the BOEM organization, official document management, international affairs, Freedom of Information Act responses, and litigation activities.


Bureau of safety and environmental enforcement – $204.9 million

The FY2017 BSEE budget request is $204.9 million, including $96.3 million in current appropriations and $108.5 million in offsetting collections. Interior officials say it supports continued safe and responsible offshore energy development.


The FY2017 budget is a net $196,000 increase above the 2016 enacted level, reflecting an increase of $7.9 million in current appropriations and a $7.7 million decrease in offsetting collections. The total FY2017 estimate of $108.5 million in offsetting collections assumes decreases from 2016 of $11.5 million for rental receipts and $2.2 million for cost recoveries, along with a $6.0 million inspection fee collection increase.

Funding for Oil Spill Research is maintained at the 2016 enacted level of $14.9 million.


Offshore Safety and Environmental Enforcement

The FY2017 budget request includes $190.0 million for Offshore Safety and Environmental Enforcement programs, primarily for conventional energy activities. The BSEE also is working collaboratively with BOEM to establish appropriate permitting and oversight processes for offshore renewable energy projects that will promote safe operations.


Oil spill research

$14.899 million, same level as 2016 enacted. Supports research on oil pollution prevention and response as authorized by the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.


Office of surface mining reclamation and enforcement – $158 million

The OSMRE FY2017 budget request is $83 million below 2016 enacted.



$127.6 million, an increase of $4.3 million above 2016 enacted.

  • $10.5 million (increase of $1.8 million above 2016 enacted) to improve implementation of existing laws and support state and tribal programs.
  • $65.5 million for state and tribal regulatory grants, a decrease of $3.1 million below the 2016 level.
  • OSMRE expects to recover $1.9 million of its service costs in 2017.


other Program Increases

OSMRE’s FY17 budget allows for the following program increases:

  • $2.5 million to advance the GeoMine Project.
  • $1.2 million for applied science to conduct studies to advance technologies and practices specific to coal mine sites for more comprehensive ecosystem restoration.
  • $1 million to expand use of reforestation techniques in coal mine reclamation and provide opportunities for youth and community engagement.
  • $2.3 million to support technical assistance.
  • $1 million for NEPA document preparation and review.
  • $350,000 to support office of the solicitor legal reviews of coal mining issues.
  • $205,000 to improve financial information monitoring.


Abandoned mine reclamation fund

$30.4 million, a decrease of $86.9 million below the 2016 level. The FY2017 budget proposes a broader effort to support reclamation and economic and community development as part of the administration’s POWER+ Plan.


$1.5 million program increase for technical assistance to states, tribes, and communities to address AML technological advances and site reclamation issues.


U.S. geological survey – $1.2 billion

This budget request is $107 million above 2016 and goes toward research and development that supports economic growth, balanced resource use priorities, climate change, and national security and well being. The budget improves response to and warning of natural disasters, responds to drought and other water challenges, supports sustainable domestic energy and minerals development, and advances scientific understanding of land use, land change, and the effects of resource decisions to assist communities and land managers in making choices informed by sound science.


The FY2017 budget invests in the USGS’s capabilities for science and innovation to monitor and respond to natural disasters with increases for priority science to help stabilize and rehabilitate ecosystems after wild fires. It also provides geospatial information, monitoring strategies, and other relevant scientific information faster for real-time fire response. Related increases build USGS’ capability to respond to landslide crises, and expand the use of flood inundation mapping and rapidly deployable stream gages to meet urgent needs of flood-threatened communities lacking a permanent stream gage.


The budget continues $8.2 million to develop the West Coast Earthquake Early Warning System into a complete production prototype system, and to expand coverage and conduct beta-test alerts.


The budget provides an increase of $18.4 million for science to support sustainable water management.

It increases science investments for a changing landscape:

  • $9.8 million in the Arctic
  • $3.9 million for sage brush habitats
  • $3.9 million to improve coastal science that will help communities build resilient coastal landscapes and improve the Atlantic Coast post-storm contaminant monitoring network


Budget Increases:

  • $1.4 million for tribal climate science partnerships.
  • $2.5 million for better tools to detect and control invasive species, particularly new and emerging invasive species.
  • Investments to extend the four-decade Landsat satellite program with the development of Landsat 9. Increases include:
  • $17.6 million for satellite operations, funding the development of Landsat 9 ground systems and satellite operations and an investment to retrieve and disseminate data from the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-2 earth observation satellite.
  • $4.9 million to expand the 3D elevation program and leverage partnerships across the nation, accelerate Alaska map modernization, and provide coastal imaging to help communities make infrastructure resilience investments.
    • Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) commented that Alaska land conveyances—funded at 20 percent of last year’s level—were inadequately addressed when 5.3 million acres is still left to map. Sec. Jewell responded that though the funding decreased, new technology makes mapping possible at less cost.
    • Murkowski responded that the state has not accepted BLM’s proposed methodology. And, even though the discussions are ongoing, the reduced funding removes the imperative.
  • $3 million to develop the computing resources necessary to produce and disseminate Landsat-based information products.



Fish and wildlife service – $3 billion

The FY2017 budget request for FWS includes current appropriations of $1.6 billion. The discretionary request is an increase of $54 million compared to 2016 enacted. This budget request will go towards the following FWS operations:

  • National Wildlife Refuge System – $506.6 million
  • Law Enforcement and International Affairs program:
    • $75.1 million for law enforcement programs to combat wildlife trafficking.
    • $550,000 to support the U.S. Chairmanship of the Arctic Council.
  • $17.8 million funding for Cooperative Landscape Conservation. This is an increase of $4.8 million above 2016 to support landscape planning and design, and partner cooperation that will improve the condition of wildlife habitat and enhance community resilience.
  • $20.6 million for Science Support.
  • An additional $1 million over the 2016 level to expand Strategic Habitat Conservation, which, in cooperation with stakeholders,identifies priority species and habitat, and desired biological outcomes, and develops conservation strategies to achieve these outcomes.


National park service – $3.1 billion

The FY2017 NPS budget request includes a $250 million increase for investment in projects and activities associated with the Park Service’s next century of existence.

This current funding is complemented by a legislative proposal to provide new mandatory funding. The National Park Service Centennial Act would include: (1) $100 million a year for three years to provide the federal match for Centennial Challenge signature projects at park units. (2) $100 million a year for three years for the Public Lands Centennial Fund, a competitive opportunity for public lands agencies to support conservation and maintenance projects. (3) $300.0 million a year for three years for Second Century Infrastructure Investment projects to make a meaningful and lasting impact on the NPS deferred maintenance backlog.


During the Senate ENR hearing on the DOI budget, Sen. Murkowski questioned Sec. Jewell about the proposed single-lane gravel road from King Cove to the nearest airport at Cold Bay.  Sen. Murkowski said that since Sec. Jewell had rejected the road proposal 26 months ago, King Cove has had 39 medevac’s – 14 of which were conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard.


The Interior Department previously commissioned the Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a study about the best modes of transport to connect the community to the Cold Bay airport. Sen. Murkowski asked if the report has been released and if the King Cove community had been consulted.


Sec. Jewell said the study will be released soon, and she was not sure if King Cove was consulted. She said she would be happy to work on a marine-based solution that may be identified in the corps’ study. FWS has opposed the road on the grounds that that it would create too much damage within the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge.


Bureau of Indian affairs – $2.9 billion

The FY2017 BIA budget request is $2.9 billion, $138 million above 2016 enacted. It includes:

  • $197 million for construction
  • $2.4 billion for Indian program operations
  • Increases of $9.4 million for scholarships, adult education, tribal colleges and universities, and $3.6 million for Johnson O’Malley education grants to provide additional resources to tribes and organizations to meet the unique and specialized educational needs of American Indian and Alaska Native students.


To foster public-private partnerships to improve student experiences at BIA-funded schools, the FY2017 budget again proposes appropriations language enabling the Secretary to reactivate the National Foundation for American Indian Education. Through its fundraising, the foundation will create opportunities for Indian students both inside and outside of the classroom.


Increases to support tribal nation-building and economic development:

  • $4 million for a Native One-Stop Support Center so tribes can find and access the hundreds of federal services available to tribes.
  • $1 million to help tribes adopt uniform commercial codes for building legal infrastructure on reserves to promote credit and other capital transactions.
  • $12 million to enable Interior to work with American Indian/Alaskan Native communities to improve federal data quality and availability, to create a Census Bureau reimbursable agreement that addresses data gaps in Indian Country, and to create an Office of Indian Affairs Policy, Program Evaluation and Data to support effective, data-driven, tribal policy making and program implementation.
  • $1.3 million increase for the Small and Needy Tribes program to assist eligible tribes in expanding and sustaining tribal governance.
  • $15.1 million program increase over 2016 in eight natural resource programs to support tribes in developing science capabilities.
    • Support Alaska Arctic Native Villages and other critically vulnerable communities in evaluating options for the long-term community resilience.
    • $2 million for Alaska subsistence management to better prepare for climate change impacts, as part of an ongoing commitment to improve national resilience.
    • $8.7 million for trust real estate service activities to reinforce resource stewardship and address probate backlog, land title and records processing, geospatial support needs, and database management, in addition to providing expanded technical and legal support for tribal water rights authorized settlements.


Department-wide programs – $1.2 billion

Department-wide programs increased $170 million from 2016 enacted levels, not including $2 billion in mandatory funding for a new Coastal Climate Resilience Program, which will be funded by redirecting roughly half of the savings from the repeal of an offshore oil and gas revenue sharing program that, under current law, only benefits four states.


new funding framework for wildland fire suppression is created, making it similar to other natural disaster response systems. The budget includes base level funding of 70 percent of the 10-year average for suppression costs and an additional $290 million cap adjustment for 2 percent of the most severe fires. This eliminates the need for additional funds through the FLAME Act by providing stable funding while minimizing transfers from the budgets of other programs.


Wildland fire management – $1.1 BillioN

The FY2017 budget request for Wildland Fire Management without the cap adjustment is $824 million. With the adjustment cap ($1.1 billion), it is $298 million above 2016 enacted.


Base budget:

  • $263 million for fire suppression – 70 percent of the 10-year average.
  • $179.1 million for Fuels Management and Resilient Landscapes sub activities, $9.1 million above 2016 enacted.


Adjustment Cap spending – $290 million cap adjustment – the remaining 30 percent of the 10-year average for fire suppression spending.


Other increases include:

  • An increase of $6.9 million inpreparedness to maintain or strengthen initial and extended attack capacity.
  • $2.8 million to enhance the initial attack capability of rural fire departments and rural fire protection associations.
  • $20.4 million for Burned Area Rehabilitation, a $1.5 million increase to address the greater post-fire rehabilitation needs caused by the 2015 and 2016 fire seasons.
  • $1.6 million to purchase replacement vehicles for the BIA fire program and $1.5 million to cover utility costs for the Alaska Fire Service’s leased space.


Central hazardous materials – $14 million

The FY2017 budget request is $4 million above 2016 enacted.


Natural resource damage assessment and restoration – $9 million

The FY2017 budget request is $1 million above 2016 enacted.


$13.5 million for the Central Hazardous Materials Fund ($3.5 million above 2016) to fund the remedial design for the Red Dog Mine cleanup in Alaska.


$9.2 million for Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration, $1.5 million above 2016.


*Coastal climate resilience program – $2 billion

This program will provide resources over a 10-year period for at-risk coastal states, local governments, and their communities to prepare for and adapt to climate change. As mentioned previously, this will come from revenue redirected from a Gulf of Mexico offshore oil and gas revenue sharing program.

  • During the Senate ENR hearing on the DOI budget request, Bill Cassidy (R-LA) said that this plan makes revenue sharing unfair because the Gulf States that are at risk from coastal erosion will only get 37 percent of federal revenue, while states with onshore oil and gas programs receive 50 percent. Another way to address this would be to expand revenue sharing to the Atlantic and Arctic states, not make it a federal fund.


Department Legislative reforms – $18 million

Legislative reforms over the next decade to administrative actions to strengthen the management of the Interior’s onshore and offshore oil and gas programs, which are focused on improving the return to taxpayers from the leasing of the Federal resources, and on improving transparency and oversight.