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Zinke defends infrastructure, energy plans in hearings

Cara J

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Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke appeared before the the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and the the House Natural Resources Committee last week to testify on the department’s proposed $11.7 budget for fiscal year 2019. Both hearings focused largely on infrastructure funding and energy development. At the Senate hearing, a proposed reduction in offshore royalty rates from 18.75 to 12.5 percent was a particular point of contention. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) expressed concern that the change would reduce available funding for programs that rely on energy royalties, including the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The proposed Recovering America’s Wildlife Act and the Public Lands Infrastructure Fund would also rely on revenue from new energy leasing to address the department’s $11.6 billion in maintenance backlogs. Zinke countered that “You lower the royalties, you make [offshore development] more attractive, production increases, and revenue in some cases can increase.” He was clear, however, that the final analysis of the recommendation is forthcoming and ongoing leasing will apply the current royalty rate. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) also criticized the proposed reduction of the Land and Water Conservation Fund from $400 million to $8 million, calling it a “virtual elimination” of the fund.  The [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/zinke-defends-infrastructure-energy-plans-in-hearings/

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