Excerpts from Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar’s letter on the impacts of sequestration
Letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee dated Feb. 6, 2013:
Oil and Gas and Coal. Development of oil, gas, and coal on Federal lands and water would slow down due to cuts in programs that: Issue permits for new development, plan for new projects, conduct environmental reviews, and inspect operations. Leasing of new Federal lands for future development would also be delayed, with fewer resources available for agencies to prepare for and conduct lease sales. As a result:
- Efforts to expedite processing of offshore oil and gas permitting in the Gulf of Mexico would be thwarted by delays, putting at risk some of the 550 exploration plans or development coordination documents Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) anticipates for review this year.
- Reductions would impact BOEM’s oil and gas activities in the Alaska Region, including the processing of G&G seismic permits, review and analysis needed for Environmental Assessments, work on Worst Case Discharge analysis for drilling permit reviews, and Air Quality data gathering and modeling work with other Federal agencies.
- Approximately 300 fewer onshore oil and gas leases would be issued in Western states such as Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico, delaying prospective production from those lease tracts and deferring payments to the Treasury.
- Delays in coal leasing would defer as much as $50 to $60 million from the Treasury for each sale delayed.
- The FWS would conduct approximately 2,000 fewer consultations, delaying economic development projects and energy facilities that need environmental approvals.
Visitor Impacts. The public should be prepared for reduced hours and services provided by Interior’s 398 national parks, 561 refuges, and over 258 public land units. Reductions would:
- Reduce hours of operation for visitor centers, shorten seasons, and possibly close camping, hiking, and other recreational areas when there is insufficient staff to ensure the protection of visitors, employees, and resources.
- Require complete closure or program elimination at about 128 refuges. Visitor programs at nearly all refuges would be discontinued.
- Limit the Department’s ability to sustain a full complement of season employees needed for firefighting, law enforcement, and visitor services at the time when parks, refuges, and land areas are preparing for the busy summer season.
Local communities and businesses that rely on recreation to support their livelihoods would face a loss of income from reduced visitation to national parks, refuges, and public lands. The 435 million recreational visits to Department managed lands in 2011 supported about 403,000 jobs nationwide and contributed nearly $48.7 billion to local economies.
Cuts in Federal Payments to State and Local Governments. States and local governments would lose over $200 million in direct funding from the Department for Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT)
- Senate Appropriations Committee: Letter from Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar on the impacts of sequestration – Feb. 2013 (PDF)
- WhatTheFolly.com: 5 key facts about sequestration
- WhatTheFolly.com: Analysis: Impact of sequestration on non-defense discretionary spending