Murkowski Delivers Big Wins for Alaska in Interior Appropriations Bill

Today President Biden signed into law an omnibus appropriations package containing funding for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2022. The package includes the Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee’s bill, which Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) negotiated as the panel’s Ranking Member. Murkowski secured provisions to strengthen Alaska’s economy, improve water and wastewater infrastructure, and create safer and healthier communities across the state.

“Through this omnibus bill, I’ve again used my leadership role on the Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee to address many of Alaska’s needs, while holding off riders that would have harmed our state’s resource industry. We fully fund the PILT program, direct significant funding to clean drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, provide for wildfire mitigation and natural hazards monitoring, and invest in our public lands. I secured continued funding for public safety and to tackle the ongoing crisis of missing, murdered, and trafficked indigenous women and girls. And, to create a healthier, safer Alaska, we provide crucial resources to help prevent suicide, substance misuse, and alcohol abuse,” said Senator Murkowski. “As we rebuild and strengthen our economy, the programmatic and congressionally directed funding I’ve secured in this measure will provide greater certainty, hope, and support for Alaskans as we work together to realize our state’s unrivaled promise.” 

Congressionally Directed Spending Allocations for Alaska

  • Alakanuk: $9.9 million for the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium to provide basic water and wastewater infrastructure to homes that have not had it previously. Residents currently rely on rain, river, or hauled water for drinking water and use honey buckets and on-property bunkers for their wastewater disposal.
  • Anchorage (USGS): $1 million to aid the development of an earthquake early warning system.
  • Statewide (Rossia): $350,000 to provide funds to repair and rehabilitate sites listed on the National Register for Historic Places.
  • Statewide (Fish and Wildlife Service): $750,000 for an Invasive Species Early Detection Rapid Response Strike Team in southcentral Alaska.
  • Statewide (State of Alaska, Division of Forestry): $3.25 million to coordinate and implement forest management activities across various jurisdictions to meet the wildfire prevention, mitigation, response, and restoration objectives in the State of Alaska’s Forest Action Plan. 
  • Anchorage: $1 million for the Alaska Native Justice Center to provide training and technical assistance (TTA) as well as organizational support materials to help address public safety, justice, and child welfare. 
  • Chugach National Forest: $5.77 million for the maintenance, construction, and restoration of portions of the Iditarod Trail.
  • Klawock: $1.22 million to purchase needed landfill infrastructure and associated maintenance costs for the cities of Klawock, Craig, and Coffman Cove to comply with new garbage removal requirements.
  • Kodiak: $3.25 million to replace a failing wastewater lift station.
  • Fairbanks: $10 million to assess known contamination, remediate, and demolish the Polaris Building, which poses significant health and safety risks to the Fairbanks community. 
  • Fairbanks (University of Alaska Fairbanks): $2 million to the University to review the feasibility of establishing PFAS treatment facilities across the State of Alaska, including mobile treatment systems. 
  • Fairbanks (Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center): $250,000 to work in partnership with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to assess where domestic violence shelters are necessary in rural Alaska. 
  • Galena: $3.66 million to the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium to administer piped water and sewer services to homes that currently do not have access to these services and rely on hauling water from a community water point and honey buckets.
  • Grayling: $4.34 million for the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium to replace a failing water distribution system that freezes and breaks, leading to water shortages in the community and inability to keep the water storage tank full. 
  • Juneau: $800,000 for the City and Borough of Juneau to reroute influent piping around obsolete solids separation equipment. 
  • Juneau (Seaalaska Heritage Institute): $500,000 to help support the Kootéeya Deiyi project, which will create a trail of totem poles and storyboards representing Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian clans along the Juneau waterfront. The project is expected to help increase economic development while highlighting and preserving Native art and culture, consistent with the goals of the NATIVE Act (P.L. 114-221).
  • Kenai: $385,000 to implement the community's wildfire hazard mitigation plan, which includes addressing spruce bark beetle infestation that can lead to catastrophic wildfire. 
  • Kenai Peninsula Borough: $3.36 million to expand the leachate evaporation capacity at the landfill in order to help the landfill continue to meet regulatory requirements.
  • Ketchikan: $1.25 million to repair the decaying Schoenber Culvert to avoid its failure and potential subsequent discharges of untreated wastewater.
  • King Cove: $3 million to build needed capacity and purchase new processing equipment for the landfill, which is currently nearing capacity. 
  • King Cove: $5.2 million for construction of five new water wells and corresponding upgrades to the distribution system, storage tank, and control systems.
  • Kodiak: $50,000 for the Kodiak Area Native Association to study the public health and environmental impacts of harmful algal blooms in the region. 
  • Matanuska-Susitna Borough: $385,000 to implement the community’s fire reduction initiative to address spruce bark beetle infestation, which can lead to catastrophic wildfire.
  • Metlakatla: $780,000 to improve solid waste management, including the reduction of volume by using a multi-use portable shredder, for the safety and health of the residents and members of the Metlakatla Indian Community. 
  • Russian Mission: $5.22 million for the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium to build a new landfill because the current one is at capacity and causing trash to spill directly into the community.
  • Seward: $1.1 million for the Alaska Sealife Center to study marine animal health and changing oceans.
  • Skagway: $10.2 million to expand capacity at the Wastewater Treatment Plant, which has recently experienced capacity difficulties due to increased use. 
  • Stebbins: $6.2 million for the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium to administer a piped water and wastewater distribution system. Residents currently haul water and use honey buckets.
  • Tununak: $8.3 million to the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium for the construction of water and sewer infrastructure to serve 90 homes; this infrastructure will include a combined above and below ground water system, below grade gravity sewer system, residential service lines, and household plumbing, as well as a community drain field. 
  • Wrangell: $2.08 million to the City & Borough of Wrangell to fund a connection pipe between the Upper Reservoir and the Water Treatment Plant as a means of accessing the upper reservoir’s water.

Other Bill Highlights

Click here for comprehensive bill highlights. Note: Numbers are nationwide program funding levels.

Investing in Communities: Provides $515 million, full funding, for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program, which provides monetary compensation to local governments throughout Alaska that contain federal lands that are not subject to state or local taxation. The revenue helps local governments provide vital services, such as firefighting and police protection, search-and-rescue operations, and the construction of public schools and roads.

Water and Wastewater Infrastructure: Addresses drinking water and wastewater infrastructure challenges by providing $2.76 billion through the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) State Water Revolving Funds program and $27.1 million for a grant program to help bring basic water and sewer infrastructure to communities in need. The bill also increases funding to $39.2 million for EPA’s Alaska Native Villages Water program for the construction of new drinking water and wastewater systems, or the improvement of existing systems in rural Alaskan communities.

Safer Communities: Provides funding for important programs that help emergency responders respond to and inform the public about natural hazards and disasters. Funding for both the earthquakes hazard program and volcano hazards program will allow Alaska to develop and upgrade monitoring capabilities. The bill also provides $5.1 billion for wildland fire management, including wildfire suppression funding.

Public Safety: In order to improve the federal response to the epidemic of missing, trafficked, and murdered indigenous women and girls, an additional $5 million is included for the BIA to continue to address these issues. The bill provides funding for cold case work, equipment needs, and victim witness specialists. It also includes an additional $4 million for Public Law 280 states, such as Alaska, to help develop tribal court systems for communities. The omnibus further provides $3 million for training and specific VAWA tribal court needs. Direct support for the Small and Needy Tribes program will ensure all tribes have a base level of support to run tribal governments; Alaska tribes will receive the largest share of this funding.

Health and Wellness: Through the Small Ambulatory Clinics program, the omnibus provides $25 million to make infrastructure improvements to improve healthcare for Alaska Natives. The bill maintains funding for Village Built Clinics, a program unique to Alaska, and supports approximately 150 healthcare clinics in rural areas, many of which require intensive maintenance and often serve as the only health facility or source of regional medical care. The omnibus also fulfills the federal promises made to Alaska Natives by allocating full funding for Contract Support Costs, the operational costs of tribes to deliver services, including federal Indian health programs.

Alaska Lands: The omnibus prioritizes infrastructure improvements for public lands, including investments in land cleanup. The measure provides $22.1 million for legacy well cleanup, an increase of $13.5 million. It includes funding required to partner with states to inventory forests across the nation, including in interior Alaska; this will provide the State with important information about the condition of Alaska’s forested lands and dovetail with funding for education and management of spruce bark beetle infestations that threaten Alaska communities with greater risk of devastating wildfires. The bill includes $26.3 million, an increase of $422,000, for the Alaska Land Conveyance Program, which serves to fulfill legal requirements to transfer lands to the State and Alaska Natives under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) and to help with implementation of the Alaska Native Vietnam Era Veterans Land Allotment program, which Murkowski secured in early 2019.

Culture and the Arts: An increase of $12.5 million is provided to each endowment to support the arts through NEA and NEH. This includes support for the NEA’s Healing Arts Program, developed by the NEA and the DoD to help our nation’s wounded and injured service members and their families in their transition into civilian life. The bill continues funding for an arts and cultural program with Sealaska Heritage Institute.

The Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee controls funding levels for federal agencies and departments including the Department of the Interior (DOI), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Forest Service (FS), National Park Service (NPS), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), and Indian Health Service (IHS). Murkowski, as Ranking Member, is able to help write the Senate’s annual appropriations bill for the Subcommittee.




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Related Issues: Budget, Spending, and the National Debt