Interior chief slams ‘short-sighted’ GOP cuts

The secretary used a new Interior report that said the department contributed $371 billion to the United States economy and 2.3 million jobs in fiscal 2012 to bash the House GOP-proposed spending plan.

A bulk of the economic activity — $230 billion in economic activity and 1.2 million jobs — came from fossil fuel production favored by Republicans, Jewell said.

The House Appropriations Committee will soon mark up the spending bill, which cleared the Environment and Interior sub-panel last week.

Republicans have defended the budget, which halves renewable energy funding and blocks the Environment Protection Agency’s ability to implement greenhouse gas emissions rules, as a necessary response to leaner fiscal times.

House GOP leadership has awarded funding above the sequestration levels for the Pentagon.

Jewell said a slimmer checkbook at Interior would slow permitting time for onshore and offshore oil and gas development, and could impede leasing activities for energy production.

She also said the decreases would blunt research that helps communities prepare for wildfires and floods, and argued it could put a dent in tourism revenues from national parks.

The “reductions are short-sighted and could have immeasurable economic consequences,” Jewell said of cutbacks to wildfire and flood research.