Interior's Jewell gets money to play with

April 11, 2013 at 8:29 AM

WASHINGTON, April 11 (UPI) -- Incoming Interior Secretary Sally Jewell will have more than $11 billion to help drive energy and environmental decisions, the Interior Department said.

U.S. President Barack Obama unveiled a 10-year budget proposal Wednesday that calls for nearly $250 billion in new spending for jobs, infrastructure and expanded pre-school education and nearly $800 billion in new taxes.

The plan would also cut more than a trillion dollars from federal programs, including social welfare.

The Interior Department said its $11.9 billion in funding would maintain critical funding for energy development and public land protection.

The funding now falls to Sally Jewell, who was confirmed Wednesday as the next interior secretary. Jewell was chief executive officer of outdoor retailer Recreational Equipment Inc. and worked as a petroleum engineer for Mobil before it merged with Exxon.

The Senate backed her nomination in an 87-to-11 vote. All of the votes against her nomination came from Republicans.

Developers under the terms of a record-of-decision released in March by the Interior Department need to show they can get oil out of the ground in an economically and environmentally sound way before they can get full access to federal lands.

American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard said the oil industry would work with Jewell to unravel any red tape.

"Domestic oil and natural gas production supports millions of jobs and generates billions of dollars in government revenue every year, but we could do so much more with the right policies," he said in a statement.

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