Targeted Coastal Impact Assistance Program Linked to Offshore Oil & Gas

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) today questioned the
justification behind the Department of the Interior budget request to
rescind $200 million in funding intended to pay for conservation projects in
Mississippi and other Gulf Coast states.

Cochran on Wednesday participated in a Senate Interior Appropriations
Subcommittee hearing to review the FY2013 budget request for the U.S.
Department of the Interior. That budget plan includes a recommendation to
rescind $200 million in unobligated funds from the Coastal Impact Assistance
Program (CIAP).

“The recommendation to rescind unspent balances in the Coastal Impact
Assistance Program gave me pause considering the critical challenges we face
in the Gulf,” Cochran said. “The subcommittee will want to carefully
consider the wisdom of doing away with a significant amount of funding for
conservation projects in states like Mississippi whose offshore oil and gas
receipts help fund the government.”

Created by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, CIAP set aside $1.0 billion to
distribute among six states (Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Texas,
California and Alaska) for conservation, protection and preservation of
coastal areas, including wetlands. Mississippi, for example, was awarded
almost $2.0 million in CIAP funds last year to support wilderness protection
and wastewater projects on the Gulf Coast. The proposal would rescind
nearly 40 percent of the remaining project money intended for the state of

The FY2013 Interior Department budget recommends permanently cancelling $200
million of approximately $565 million in unobligated CIAP funding, citing
budget constraints and the fact that CIAP funding “has been slow to be

Cochran, in questions submitted to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, requested
that the Department address concerns from states that for years the CIAP
grant approval process has been cumbersome and time-consuming. The Energy
Policy Act of 2005 authorized $250 million to be appropriated each year
FY2007-FY2010 for CIAP. Cochran also asked for an explanation of any
administrative changes related to the definition of “obligated funds.”

The Congress last year transferred the CIAP program to the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service from the Bureau of Ocean Management (formerly the Minerals
Management Service) in hopes of improving the timeliness of project
approvals and the operation of the program.

Cochran News Release