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Interior Secretary addresses West’s worsening drought crisis

December 13, 2021 GMT
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland speaks during a Tribal Nations Summit during Native American Heritage Month, in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, Monday, Nov. 15, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland speaks during a Tribal Nations Summit during Native American Heritage Month, in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, Monday, Nov. 15, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland speaks during a Tribal Nations Summit during Native American Heritage Month, in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, Monday, Nov. 15, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland speaks during a Tribal Nations Summit during Native American Heritage Month, in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, Monday, Nov. 15, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland speaks during a Tribal Nations Summit during Native American Heritage Month, in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, Monday, Nov. 15, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland was in Las Vegas on Sunday to address the worsening drought crisis in the West.

Haaland and Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Tanya Trujillo held a listening session with local elected officials, business leaders and stakeholders to hear about the impacts that the ongoing drought is having on their communities.

“There is an urgent need to minimize the impacts of drought and develop a long-term plan to facilitate conservation and economic growth, because drought doesn’t impact just one community, it affects all of us, from farmers and ranchers, to city-dwellers to tribes,” she said.

Haaland also touted the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that invests $8.3 billion in water and drought resilience that will fund water efficiency and recycling programs and rural water projects.

The law also invests $2.5 billion in Indian Water Rights Settlements to help the Interior Department fulfill its obligations to tribes, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

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“We at the department are committed to upholding our trust responsibilities and delivering long-promised water resources to tribes, certainly to all their non-Indian neighbors, and a solid foundation for future economic development for entire communities dependent on common water resources,” she said.

Haaland’s department is trying to meet its goal of permitting at least 25 gigawatts of onshore renewable energy by 2025 by collaboratively partnering with states, cities and tribal communities.

On Saturday, Haaland and California Congressman Raul Ruiz visited Palm Springs where they toured onshore renewable energy projects in line with the Biden-Harris administration’s ambitious renewable energy goals.

They also visited the Desert Sunlight Solar Farm and saw other lands with the potential to be sited for future clean energy projects.