A rugged, whitewater river flowing northward through deep canyons, the New River is among the oldest rivers on the continent. New River Gorge National River in West Virginia encompasses over 70,000 acres of land along the New River, is rich in cultural and natural history, and offers an abundance of scenic and recreational opportunities.
Big Southern Butte is one of two domes rising from a sea of basalt near the center of the eastern Snake River Plain in Idaho. The butte is one of the largest volcanic domes in the world, but at 300,000 years old it is also one of the youngest. Hikers who trek to the 7,550-foot high summit are rewarded with spectacular panoramic views. Photo by Devin Englestead, BLM Upper Snake Wildlife Biologist.
First light at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Established in November 22, 1939, the refuge has provided a critical stopover and wintering spot for thousands of sandhill cranes, geese and other waterfowl for 75 years. Bosque del Apache's sandhill crane population has multiplied from 18 birds in the 1840s to more than 20,000 birds today. Photo by Kim Hang Dessoliers (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Virgin Island, Puerto Rico, Marshall Island Issues: HR 3940
Nikolao I. Pula
Office of Insular affairs
Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
H.R. 3940 assistance for political status education programs
May 19, 2010
Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, thank you for the opportunity today to discuss H.R. 3940, which would authorize technical assistance funding for political status education programs.
Subsection (a) of section 601 of Public Law 96-597 created a technical assistance program that authorizes the Secretary of the Interior –
to extend to the governments of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Virgin Islands, and the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands technical assistance on subjects within the responsibility of the respective territorial governments.
This technical assistance program, administered by the Office of Insular Affairs in the Department of the Interior, has provided technical assistance funds to the territories for a wide range of purposes.
Section 2 of H.R. 3940 would add a new section before the language above that would authorize, not require, the Secretary of the Interior to extend assistance to
American Samoa, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands for grants, research, planning assistance, studies, and agreements with Federal agencies to facilitate public education programs regarding political status options.
The Department of the Interior has no objection to the enactment of H.R. 3940.However, we note that any assistance provided under this authorization would have to compete with other priority needs.We also note that everything section 2 would authorize can be accomplished under the language already contained in subsection (a) of of section 601 of Public Law 96- 597 without the enactment of additional legislation.
When the political status of a territory is under consideration, education of the public regarding the options available to the people is of utmost importance.Only an educated populace can make informed decisions about its future.The Department of the Interior would not object to funding political status education on two conditions:
the education on options is factual, and
all points of view receive equal opportunity for hearing.
The Department would not award funding to extol one point of view that unfairly excludes other points of view.The hallmark considerations for a public education program on political status are facts and fairness.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on H.R. 3940.I would be happy to answer any questions at this time.