Murkowski Announces Interior Provisions in Year-End Omnibus Bill to Benefit Alaska

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) today announced a series of provisions within the year-end omnibus budget package that will approve, support, and fund a broad range of initiatives important to Alaska. Murkowski secured many of the provisions through her role as Chairman of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, which provides Alaska with a strong voice in federal budget negotiations. Today the Senate voted on the bill which passed in a vote of 65-33.

(Senator Murkowski highlights wins for Alaska—Click image to watch video)

Murkowski developed a strong Interior Appropriations bill that was marked up in the Appropriations Committee in June 2015. After the bill was reported, Senate Democrats repeatedly blocked the consideration of individual appropriations bills. Left with no choice but to turn an omnibus measure, Murkowski worked with her colleagues to include funding and policy initiatives that address a wide range of Alaska-specific priorities. Those provisions include support for energy development in the state; greater funding for alcohol and substance abuse treatment programs; the continuation of the backhaul waste removal program; a prohibition on the regulation of lead content in ammunition and fishing tackle; and full funding for contract support costs for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Indian Health Service.

A summary of Alaska-specific provisions in the omnibus appears on the following pages.

Fulfilling Federal Responsibility to Alaskan Communities

  • Fully funds the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program at $452 million.
    • In FY15, Alaska received more than $28 million in PILT payments.
    • PILT compensates local governments for tax revenues lost due to federal land ownership, and provides for vital services such as firefighting and police protection, the construction of public schools and roads, and search-and-rescue operations.
  • Restores the National Wildlife Refuge fund (PILT for Fish and Wildlife Service lands), which the President had proposed to cut.

Supporting Energy Development in Alaska


  • Provides a $23 million increase for onshore energy programs on public lands, which will boost capacity for development within the NPR-A and on other BLM lands in Alaska. 
  • Compels BLM to find a path forward on oil production in the NPR-A by solving metering issues.
  • Funds accounts necessary to facilitate transmission lines in Southeast for renewable energy.


  • Provides necessary funds to support both offshore conventional and renewable energy development.
  • Provides funds for Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to work on the next 5-year leasing plan.

Honoring Responsibilities to Alaska Natives and Native Americans

  • Provides full contract support costs (CSC) for the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and Indian Health Service (IHS) as well as creates a separate appropriations account so that other agency funds cannot be taken to pay for the legal obligation to pay full CSC’s.
  • Provides an additional $195 million to address safety, education, and infrastructure needs.
    • Provides an additional $25 million for BIA with important increases to programs that help combat domestic violence, substance abuse, and other public safety initiatives.
      • This includes $10 million in Tribal Court funding for P.L. 280 states such as Alaska. This is the first time tribal courts in Alaska have received federal funding.
  • Provides an increase of $9 million for the Tiwahe initiative, which will help communities design a comprehensive approach for the delivery of social services and justice programs. 
  • Provides $40 million for IHS to address critical infrastructure needs in villages and on reservations nationwide.
  • Provides $20 million for IHS construction projects.
  • Provides full funding for IHS staffing packages at new facilities.
  • Provides $2 million for Village Built Clinics, a program unique to Alaska that supports health care clinics in villages and rural areas.
  • Provides an additional $10 million for IHS alcohol and substance abuse treatment programs.

Enhances Land Access and Opportunities for Sportsmen

  • Provides new funding to the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service for recreational access. The total for recreational access funding is $20.5 million.
  • Prevents the Department of the Interior from designating de facto wilderness by prohibiting funding for the “wildlands” program and urges the Administration to receive state and local support for any designation of a monument.
  • Directs more recreation dollars for the National Forests in Alaska to enhance visitor services and recreation opportunities.
  • Prohibits EPA from regulating lead content of ammunition and fishing tackle.

Funds Conservation Priorities

  • Provides $450 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).
    • This includes $110 million for the state-side of the LWCF program, which provides grants to State and local governments. This is the largest amount directed to state-side LWCF since 2002.
    • Provides $943,000 to acquire 500 acres in Lake Clark National Park and Preserve.
  • Increases funding to the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) to conserve migratory bird habitat across the country and ensures that specific mandatory funding for NAWCA will continue for the next 10 years.
  • Provides additional funding for the State Wildlife Grants Program to improve habitat for potentially endangered species to help protect species from the need for ESA listings.

Supporting Rational Wildlife Management

  • Prohibits the Fish and Wildlife Service from using funds to conduct a caribou hunt on Kagalaska Island in Alaska.
  • Prohibits costly and impractical efforts to remove cattle from Chirikof Island.

National Park Service

  • Provides an additional $236 million for the National Park Service ($135 million of which is for the Centennial Initiative) and addresses deferred construction and maintenance backlog to prepare parks and communities for increased tourism as part of the Centennial Initiative.
  • Funds two deferred maintenance projects in Alaska:
    • $3.6 million for utility replacements in Denali National Park.
    • $2.2 million to complete a bridge replacement and provide trail access in Katmai National Park.

Mapping and Monitoring for Improving Safety and Resource Development 

  • Provides $48 million for energy and mineral resources programs.
    • Restores $2 million in proposed cuts for geologic mapping initiatives for unmapped areas of the country, especially in Alaska.
    • Provides an additional $2.4 million to support critical minerals research.
  • Provides an additional $1.32 million for 3D Alaska mapping initiative.
  • Provides over $86 million for earthquake and volcano hazards as part of the Natural Hazards program.
    • An additional $1 million is included for repairing and upgrading volcano monitoring systems.

Fully Funds Wildland Fire Fighting

  • Provides 100% of funding requested for wildfire preparedness and suppression, to ensure that the resources necessary to combat wildfire are available. 
  • Makes $593 million in additional funding available above the 10-year average to prevent “fire borrowing” if regular fire suppression funds are exhausted.
  • Provides $545 million for hazardous fuels reduction.  

Fulfilling Commitments Made Under ANCSA

  • Funds the Alaska land conveyance program at $22 million to continue momentum toward the completion of land exchanges. 
  • Requires completion of an inventory of contaminated Alaska Native lands in need of remediation and directs BLM to coordinate with all responsible federal agencies to clean lands up as soon as possible. 
  • Instructs BLM to work with the State of Alaska to efficiently rectify erroneous land conveyances made to the state. 

Promoting Alaska’s Mining Industry

  • Provides regulatory relief by instructing BLM to develop a definition of “re-vegetation” that takes into account the unique challenges in Alaska.
  • Compels BLM to work with miners to evaluate and make reclamation determinations in an effort to support placer miners.

Supporting Alaska’s Timber Industry

  • Compels the Forest Service to offer timber sales in the Tongass National Forest.
  • Takes the recommendations of the Tongass Advisory Committee and requires the Forest Service to find out if there is actually enough young growth timber to sustain the industry before they attempt to continue the transition from old growth to young growth.
  • Requires that timber sales from Alaska Red Cedar be economic and for the U.S. Forest Service to use an appraisal system best suited to the unique needs of Alaska.
  • Increases funding for Forest Inventory Analysis program to conduct inventories in Interior Alaska for potential timber activity.

Making EPA Work in Alaska

  • Funds a grant program to allow for wood stove change out in areas like Fairbanks where wood stoves have been a major cause of the community not meeting air quality standards.
    • Funds may also be used to support the conversion of residential boilers to achieve attainment.
  • Ensures that the EPA continues operating the backhaul program for five years to remove solid waste and garbage from communities in rural Alaska.
  • Includes an additional $10 million of funding for the Alaska Native Villages Water Program (for a total of $20 million), assisting Alaska communities with improving drinking water and wastewater systems.

Opportunities in the Arctic

  • Directs the Department of the Interior to work cooperatively with local stakeholders to enhance economic opportunities for the people who live and work in the Arctic region.

Murkowski is Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee.