Haaland back on the Hill to defend his budget and drilling plans

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Lawmakers are getting another crack at Interior Secretary Deb Haaland this week, with pointed questions already piled on a host of issues, including Alaskan land, oil and gas leasing and species protections. endangered.

The Wednesday morning hearing before the Senate Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee is apparently focused on the Interior Department’s fiscal year 2023 budget request. Questions, however, usually go deep in budget hearings; this week’s session is a catch-up for the one that was postponed earlier this year.

The weeks that followed gave the subcommittee members and staff new things to work with. The average U.S. gasoline price of $4.71 per gallon, for example, is 20 cents lower than a month ago, but still well above the average of $3.14 per gallon. gallon a year ago.

“It really comes down to basic supply and demand,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said in late May. “The Biden administration needs to reverse its anti-supply actions, it needs to get its bad ideas off the table, it needs to start approving crucial projects that deliver greater supply again.”

Murkowski is the top Republican on the appropriations subcommittee.

His GOP colleague, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, is also one of those pushing for energy issues.

Group Chairman Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) has, among other recent priorities, worked closely with the Interior on new monarch butterfly protection efforts where elaboration may be needed.

Interior announced the creation of a new center for pollinator conservation, but has not yet provided budget or staffing details (green wireJune 22).

Haaland’s appearance before the Senate panel follows her previous appearance before the comparable House Appropriations subcommittee, where she highlighted some energy-related actions the administration has taken.

“We have taken steps to accelerate the development of renewable energy on public lands and waters,” Haaland told the House panel, adding in response to Republican concerns that “there is no ban.” on oil and gas leasing operations.

The interior budget proposal for fiscal year 2023 is $18.1 billion — $17.5 billion in net discretion — compared to the $14.1 billion the agency received under the recent omnibus funding program (green wireMarch 28).

Haaland previously touted the Biden administration’s fiscal 2023 budget package as one that would “address climate challenges and build climate resilience, advance the clean energy economy, strengthen tribal communities, [and] reinforce Interior’s commitment to diversity and equity.

The House Appropriations Committee in June approved a $16.6 billion domestic financing package. Although well below the $18.1 billion requested by President Joe Biden in his fiscal year 2023 budget, most offices in the department would see more money under the House proposal.

Program: Hearing is Wednesday, July 13 at 10 a.m. at 124 Dirksen and via webcast.

Witness: Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.

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