Campaign Promises

Departments -> Interior

Fish and Wildlife ServiceGrade
IN-1The Promise: "Will provide state game and fish agencies with additional resources and encouragement to reach out to young men and women to educate them about hunting and fishing opportunities, hunter safety, and the basic principles of fish and wildlife management."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Supporting the Rights and Traditions of Sportsmen" dated 08/06/08.
Status:The Department of the Interior's (DOI) FY2010 budget proposal included $30M for the creation of a program entitled "Educating Young Hunters and Anglers." This proposed program was scrapped by Congress.

While the DOI manages other youth-oriented programs such as the "Youth in the Great Outdoors" program and the "Youth Conservation Corps," none is specifically earmarked for youth hunting and fishing education or fish and wildlife management.

This promise was not fulfilled.
IN-2The Promise: "...devote billions of dollars annually to state game and fish agencies and federal land management agencies to help them ensure that fish and wildlife survive the impacts of climate change."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Supporting the Rights and Traditions of Sportsmen" dated 08/06/08.
Status:"Adaptation" is defined in the Department of Interior's (DOI's) 09/10 "Climate Change Strategic Plan" as "...planned, science-based management actions that we take to help reduce the impacts of climate change on fish, wildlife, and their habitats." In other words, DOI intended to help fish and wildlife "adapt" to climate change.

Fulfillment of this "billions of dollars" promise was dependent upon passage of the American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) Act of 2009 (H.R. 2454) in CY2009. This Act (also known as the Waxman-Markey Bill or Cap-and-Trade Bill), was approved by the House but failed to pass the Senate. No other legislation containing the language found in the ACES Act of 2009, informally referred to as the "Cap & Trade Bill," was enacted during the remainder of President Obama's two terms in office.

Multiple federal and state organizations run climate change programs. However none are known to have benefited from "billions of dollars" specifically aimed at helping fish and wildlife adapt to climate change.

This promise was not fulfilled.
IN-3The Promise: "...full funding for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and fulfilling the goal of "no net loss"..."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Supporting the Rights and Traditions of Sportsmen" dated 08/06/08.
Status:The North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) of 1989 encourages "partnerships among public agencies and other interests to protect, enhance, restore, and manage wetland ecosystems and other habitats for migratory birds, fish and other wildlife..." Under the "No Net Loss Wetlands Policy," wetland loss is to be balanced with wetlands reclamation, mitigation, and restoration so that the total wetlands acreage in the USA does not decrease.

The latest available "Status and Trends of Wetlands in the Conterminous United States" provides data up to CY2009 only and shows that the goal of "no net loss," at that time, was not being achieved. Absent any current information as of end-CY2016, the focus is on the funding aspects of this promise.

In 2006, Congress reauthorized the NAWCA to extend its appropriation authorization up to $75M per year to 2012. This was the amount to be reached in the first few years of President Obama's first term to ensure the promised "full funding" was met.

Under President Obama, the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund received the following funding:


Additional program funding comes from fines, penalties, and forfeitures collected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918; from federal fuel excise taxes on small gasoline engines; and from interest accrued on the fund established under the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937.

Efforts to reauthorize the NAWCA were unsuccessful. Notably, the North American Wetlands Conservation Extension Act of 2014 (S. 741), introduced on 04/16/13 by Senator David Vitter (R-LA), would have reauthorized the NAWCA in the amount of $55M per year during the period FY2014 through FY2019, down from the previously authorized $75M per year through FY2012. This bill expired at the end of the 113th Congress in 12/14.

The Sportsmen's Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Enhancement Act (H.R. 3173) was introduced by Congressman Timothy Walz (D-MN) on 07/23/15. A provision of this bill would have reauthorized the NAWCA for the period FY2016 to FY2020 in the amount not to exceed $50M per year. This bill expired with the 114th Congress at the end of CY2016.

As late as 11/03/15, President Obama acknowledged in a memorandum entitled "Mitigating Impacts on Natural Resources from Development and Encouraging Related Private Investment" that "no net loss" goals had not yet been met. In this memorandum, he directed that "Agencies' mitigation policies should establish a net benefit goal or, at a minimum, a no net loss goal for natural resources the agency manages that are important, scarce, or sensitive, or wherever doing so is consistent with agency mission and established natural resource objectives."

This promise was not fulfilled.
IN-4The Promise: "...will support the use of tax incentives and other financial mechanisms to encourage private landowners to restore and protect habitat."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Supporting the Rights and Traditions of Sportsmen" dated 08/06/08.
Status:Tax incentives for restoring and protecting habitat, formally known as the "Enhanced Easement Incentive," were extended to 12/31/11 under the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act signed into law by President Obama on 12/17/10.

Section 111, Division Q of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 (H.R. 2029) signed into law by President Obama on 12/18/15 made permanent the conservation easement tax incentive.

Under this provision, non-farmer/rancher landowners who donate land for conservation easement purposes can deduct 50% of their annual income for 15 years. Qualifying farmer and rancher landowners can deduct 100% of their annual income for 15 years for the same purpose.

This promise was fulfilled.
IN-5The Promise: "...will direct the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior to place a special emphasis on restoration of habitat for important game species associated with specific regions of the United States..."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Supporting the Rights and Traditions of Sportsmen" dated 08/06/08.
Status:To fulfill this promise, the American Rovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 authorized $165M for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Resource Management account for "deferred maintenance, construction, and capital improvement projects on national wildlife refuges and national fish hatcheries and for high priority habitat restoration projects."

Started in 01/08, The State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) program allows for individual states to offer special projects within the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to benefit threatened, endangered, and other high-priority species through habitat restoration. The SAFE program sets aside 500K acres under CRP for this purpose.

President Obama's FY2010 budget submission included $119M, a $34M million increase over FY2009, for Forest Service funding through the Land and Water Conservation Fund to acquire easements to provide habitat for threatened or endangered wildlife and fish. In the FY2010 budget, another $230M was proposed for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for habitat restoration.

For FY2011, President Obama's budget submission included $300M for ecosystem restoration efforts in the Great Lakes area, $17M for the Mississippi River Basin, $13M for the Chesapeake Bay, and other initiatives.

This promise was fulfilled.
IN-6The Promise: "...will make the restoration of America's Everglades a top environmental priority in their administration. They will honor the federal government's promise to be a 50-50 partner with Florida to complete the CERP and will provide the national leadership necessary to restore the natural flows of water to Everglades National Park, including the bridging of Tamiami Trail, and assure that the water flowing to the Everglades ecosystem and Park is fresh and clean."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Protecting Florida's Waterways" dated 10/16/08.
Status:Under the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) approved by Congress in FY2000, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) is responsible for 50% of the cost to implement the $10.9B, 30-year plan. The federal government, primarily the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is responsible for paying the other half.

During the period FY2010 through FY2017, the federal government (DOI and USACE) spent an additional $1.5B in support of design and construction of CERP projects. The funding breakdown is roughly as follows:

The Tamiami Trail, built in 1928, runs for 275 miles from Miami along the northern edge of Everglades National Park, through Big Cypress National Preserve, and ends in Tampa. This trail is considered to be environmentally damaging as it acts as a dam for Everglades waterflow as it cuts the "River of Grass" through its center. Most damaging is an 11-mile section of the trail that lays on top of the Northeat Shark River Slough, a deep waterway that is the primary source of water for Everglades National Park and Florida Bay. These areas are starved of freshwater while polluted water is diverted to fragile estuaries in the ocean.

As of end-CY2016, only one of five needed Tamiami Trail bridges was completed at a cost of $95M. On 04/22/16, work began on a second bridge, 2.6 miles in length, at a cost of $144M. This bridge could be completed by CY2020. Three additional bridges are needed at an estimated cost of $400M.

This promise was not fulfilled.
IN-7The Promise: "...will increase incentives for farmers and private landowners to...protect wetlands, grasslands, and forests."
When/Where: Obama and Biden's Plan for America: "Blueprint for Change," dated 10/09/08.
Status:Other than the pre-existing Landowner Incentive Program (LIP) as of mid-CY2012, no "additional incentives" are known to have been created by the Obama Administration specifically to encourage private landowner protection and restoration of wetlands, grasslands, forests and other wildlife habitat.

During the years preceding President Obama's two terms in office, and since CY1998, the LIP was funded in the amount of $136.5M, funds that were disbursed on a grant basis. The LIP received no new funding while President Obama was in office.

While Section 111, Division Q of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 (H.R. 2029) signed into law by President Obama on 12/18/15 made permanent the conservation easement tax incentive, this initiative is not considered to respond specifically to the intent of this promise.

This promise was not fulfilled.
National ParksGrade
IN-8The Promise: "Will repair the damage done to our national parks by inadequate funding and emphasize the protection and restoration of our National Forests."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Promoting a Healthy Environment" dated 10/08/08.
Status:In this promise, the Bush Administration preceding President Obama was blamed for inadequately funding the National Park Service (NPS). The last appropriation under President Bush (FY2009) for the NPS was $2.532B.

On 10/30/09, President Obama signed into law a bill granting $2.7B to the Department of the Interior for the National Park Service, an increase of $198M over FY2009. The NPS received an additional $750M under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. This increase over previous year/administration funding was a step in the right direction, but still left the National Park Service short of about $9.2B to cover projected infrastructure maintenance/repair requirements, an amount estimated at the time to grow to over $12B by end-CY2016.

Here's how NPS funding fared under President Obama:
Total by end-CY2016: $21.672B

This promise was fulfilled.
Natural ResourcesGrade
IN-9The Promise: "Will support federal policies to encourage voluntary water banks, wastewater treatment, and other market-based conservation measures to address the water shortage in western states."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Promoting a Healthy Environment" dated 10/08/08.
Status:The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) signed into law on 02/17/09 included $1B for the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Reclamation for "Water and Related Resources". Not less than $126M of this amount was earmarked for water reclamation and reuse projects.

On 09/25/09, for example, Secretary of the Interior Salazar announced the award of a $21.4M contract utilizing ARRA funds for a water conservation project in Sunnyside, WA. The Water Conservation Initiative Challenge Grants also funneled funds to the western states to optimize water conservation efforts.

In CY2015 alone, the Obama Administration made $300M available to western states in new drought aid to provide relief for farmers, displaced workers and rural communities that ran out of drinking water.

This promise was fulfilled.
IN-10The Promise: "Will support increased funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) , which supports land acquisition and maintenance of parks."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Promoting a Healthy Environment" dated 10/08/08.
Status:The Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965 mandates "congressional make the income of the Fund not less than $900,000,000 for each fiscal year until the Fund's expiration date, September 30, 2015." Only in FY1998 and FY2001 did the fund receive appropriations meeting that threshold.

On 09/08/09, Congressman Nick Rahall (D-WV) introduced the "Consolidated Land, Energy, and Aquatic Resources Act of 2009" (H.R. 3534) and would have required full funding of the LWCF for FY2011 and succeeding fiscal years. This bill passed the House on 07/30/10, but never passed the Senate. It expired at the end of CY2010 with the 111th Congress.

The "Land and Water Conservation and Funding Act of 2009" was introduced by Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) on 11/06/09 as S-2747. The bill did not get beyond the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and it too expired when the 111th Congress adjourned at the end of CY2010. Senator Bingaman reintroduced this bill before the 112th Congress on 06/23/11 (S. 1265) but it did not gain any passage momentum and expired with the 112th Congress.

Shared between the Departments of Interior and Agriculture, the LWCF's budget for FY2010 to FY2014 was as follows:

Starting in FY2015, President Obama requested the full/mandated amount of $900.0M. In light of fiscal constraint realities, Congress limited LWCF funding as follows:
FY2015....$306.1M (34% of requested amount)
FY2016....$450.0M (50% of requested amount)
FY2017....$400.0M (44% of requested amount)

The promise to "support increased funding" was fulfilled.
IN-11The Promise: "...will lead efforts to acquire and conserve new parks and public lands, focusing on ecosystems such as the Great Plains and Eastern forests which do not yet have the protection they deserve."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Promoting a Healthy Environment" dated 10/08/08.
Status:The President's budget proposal for FY2010 stated in part: "...there are many landscapes and ecosystems that do not have adequate protection. One way to protect these landscapes is to increase funding through the LWCF to acquire and conserve new parks and public lands...".

In CY2010 alone, the Department of the Interior's (DOI's) Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) stewardship protection was extended to 34,367 additional acres and 133 additional park sites.

During his two terms in office, President Obama is credited with creating and/or enlarging 29 national parks or national monuments totaling, by some accounts, over 550M acres of land and water from Hawaii to Maine and points in between.

This promise was fulfilled.
IN-12The Promise: "...will advance legislation that works with landowners and follows in the tradition of the Wilderness Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Clean Air Act to focus federal attention and increased resources for this key environmental issue."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: Promoting a Healthy Environment" dated 10/08/08.
Status:On 03/08/12, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced a new $33M partnership with farmers, ranchers and forest landowners to use innovative approaches to restore and protect habitats for wildlife.

The Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Department of Interior's Fish and Wildlife Service jointly manage the new Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) program. This program provides technical and financial assistance for landowners who voluntarily choose to implement specific conservation practices for a particular species while continuing to manage the property as working lands. Those species include the bog turtle, golden-winged warbler, gopher tortoise, greater sage-grouse, lesser prairie-chicken, New England cottontail and southwestern willow flycatcher.

During President Obama's two terms in office, WLFW participants helped restore 6.7M acres of habitat for targeted species

Nonetheless, President Obama is not known to have advanced any new legislation that would further encourage private landowners to pursue conservation initiatives beyond those that already existed under such programs as the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), the Wetland Reserve Program (WRP), the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program, and others. No legislation was needed to create the WLFW.

This promise was not fulfilled.
IN-13The Promise: "...will push for the passage of the Great Lakes Collaboration Implementation Act, which will move us past playing defense against environmental problems and toward a comprehensive restoration of the Great Lakes."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: Promoting a Healthy Environment" dated 10/08/08.
Status:The Great Lakes Collaboration Implementation Act (aka the National Invasive Species Council Act or National Invasive Species Act) was first introduced during the 109th Congress (S. 2545) in CY2006.

After repeated failures during the Bush Administration, it was reintroduced during the Obama Administration, notably during the 111th Congress in CY2009 (S. 237/H.R. 500) and repeatedly all the way through the 114th Congress (CY2015-CY2016) when it acquired a new name, the "Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 2016" (S. 1024/H.R. 223). Also during the 114th Congress, related bills were introduced such as the "Great Lakes Water Protection Act" (H.R. 2809) and the "Great Lakes Ecological and Economic Protection Act" (S. 504), all of which failed to pass Congress and secure bill enactment.

This promise was not fulfilled.
IN-14The Promise: "Will continue support for the Landsat Data Continuity Mission, which allows study of the earth's land surfaces and provides valuable data for agricultural, educational, scientific, and government use."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Advancing the Frontiers of Space Exploration" dated 08/15/08.
Status:With the U.S. Geological Survey, NASA developed the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) to replace aging Landsat satellites that were operating beyond their projected service periods. The Landsat-8 satellite was launched on 02/11/13 and was officially transferred to the USGS on 05/30/13.

For FY2010 and FY2011, the Landsat program was funded at the $59.6M level. For FY2012, the USGS Landsat operations budget of $99.8M included $48M for the establishment of National Land Imaging Program (NLIP), a permanent budgetary and managerial home for the Landsat program.

The promise to "support" the Landsat Program was fulfilled.
Wildland Fire ManagementGrade
IN-15The Promise: "Will aggressively pursue an effective fire prevention, mitigation and land and forest management plan that decreases the fire risks that many communities are now facing."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Committed to Wildfire Management and Community Protection" dated 10/18/08.
Status:Source is cited for confirmation of exact promise wording only, as it existed before original "When/Where" campaign document was deleted from archival websites.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, signed into law on 02/17/09 by President Obama, provided $500 million for "Wildland Fire Management" to the Forest Service under the Department of Agriculture (DOA). $250M of this amount was for "hazardous fuels reduction, forest health protection, rehabilitation and hazard mitigation activities on Federal lands" and $250M was for "State and private forestry activities including hazardous fuels reduction, forest health and ecosystem improvement activities on State and private lands using all the authorities available to the Forest Service."

There was also a provision for "Wildland Fire Management" funds in the ARRA for the Department of the Interior (DOI) in the amount of $15M.

DOI funding for Wildland Fire Management activities, including preparedness, suppression and hazardous fuels reduction was $855.9M (enacted) for FY2010. The same amount was to be authorized by Congress under the FY2011 Continuing Resolution, however actual funding was capped at $778.9M. Funding during the ensuing years of the Obama Presidency was as follows:

Further to the above DOI appropriations, the annual DOA Forest Service appropriations for Wildfire Management were as follows:

This promise was fulfilled.
Interior GPA0.53