Interior Secretary Deb Haaland pitches boosted department budget to House Committee

Little was discussed during Thursday’s meeting about the difference in budgeting for climate resiliency projects compared with oil and gas programs, though lawmakers did share concerns over the extraction of minerals to be used for renewable energy. An interagency task force report about those minerals is expected to be delivered to Congress within the year, Haaland told the committee. Rep. Mark Amodei of Nevada briefly discussed permitting difficulties in the state, but his concerns seemed to center on the typical Republican concerns about “rights-holders” rather than environmental impact, something he previously touched on in a Q&A with the Reno Gazette-Journal.

Minerals were discussed in Haaland’s prepared statement only insofar as how the industry can provide additional jobs as well as how the Interior Department can streamline payouts from revenue from federal and Indian mineral leases. The Bureau of Land Management is expected to receive $49.7 million for its Renewable Energy programs, which includes expanding the amount of Renewable Energy Coordination Offices, “which specialize in permitting for renewable energy projects on public lands,” Haaland noted in her prepared statement.

What was discussed during the hearing that is of particular concern to Haaland and, really, anyone invested in Indigenous rights, is the proposed $7 million to continue funding the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative, which was launched last June to provide “a comprehensive review of the troubled legacy of federal boarding school policies.” During the hearing, Haaland revealed that her grandparents were forced into such schools, which she’d initially written about in an op-ed for The Washington Post.

It’s important for me to make sure that people know that we care about this issue, that we are doing something about it, giving them a chance to heal from this inter-generational trauma,” Haaland said. “We are working on the boarding school initiative. It should be out very soon … I think the initial start in getting a full listing of exactly what federal boarding schools were in this country where burial sites are, what tribes were relegated to these various boarding schools, those are the important facts that we are working on now that we’ll get out soon.”

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