By Michael Bastasch
March 3, 2017 - The White House is asking newly-confirmed Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to cut his department’s budget by about $1.3 billion, according to sources.
Sources familiar with the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) plan told E&E News the Trump administration recommended a 10 percent cut to the Interior Department’s budget. Interior’s current budget is $13.3 billion, meaning cuts about $1.3 billion are on the table.
No details have been released. Interior officials have been tight-lipped about what programs could be potentially cut. Secretary Zinke’s office did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
The Senate confirmed Zinke Wednesday, and the former Montana congressman showed up to work Thursday morning on horseback — that’s quite the entrance.
Zinke arrived after OMB sent budget cut recommendations to the Interior Department on Monday. Now, Zinke will have to put together his department’s budget priorities.
The White House proposed a 25 percent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget and a 37 percent cut to State Department funding.
Trump promised to repeal regulations hindering energy development, and he already signed a bill repealing Interior’s Stream Protection Rule for coal mines. Trump is also expected to lift a moratorium on new coal mining leases as soon as next week.
To do this, Zinke will have to make sure any budget cuts don’t slow down permitting to drill, mine or ranch on federal lands. Zinke will also likely keep the national park system from seeing cuts.
The conservative Heritage Foundation urged Trump to cut the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which syphons off about $900 million a year from oil and gas drilling royalties.
Heritage says eliminating the LWCF would save nearly $20 billion in 2017. That revenue could be used to bolster programs at Interior or other departments. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, however, have opposed getting rid of the LWCF.
While the details are hazy, President Donald Trump wants to cut some domestic spending to increase defense spending $54 billion.
Overall, Trump wants to increase defense spending to $603 billion while cutting non-defense spending to $462 billion. OMB Director Mick Mulvaney said these are top-line proposals and not a full budget, which is slated to released in May.