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Crane Conservation Act of 2009

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

CRANE CONSERVATION ACT OF 2009 -- (House of Representatives - April 21, 2009)

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COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS,

Washington, DC, April 21, 2009.
Hon. Nick J. Rahall II,
Chairman, Committee on Natural Resources, House of Representatives, Washington, DC.

Dear Mr. Chairman: I am writing to you concerning H.R. 388, the Crane Conservation Act of 2009, and H.R. 411, the Great Cats and Rare Canids Act of 2009.

These bills contain provisions within the Rule X jurisdiction of the Committee on Foreign Affairs. In the interest of permitting your Committee to proceed expeditiously to floor consideration of these important bills, I am willing to waive this Committee's right mark up these bills. I do so with the understanding that by waiving consideration of the bills, the Committee on Foreign Affairs does not waive any future jurisdictional claim over the subject matters contained in the bills which fall within its Rule X jurisdiction.

Further, I request your support for the appointment of Foreign Affairs Committee conferees during any House-Senate conference convened on this legislation. I would ask that you place this letter into the Congressional Record when the Committee has these bills under consideration.

I look forward to working with you as we move these important measures through the legislative process.

Sincerely,

Howard L. Berman,
Chairman.

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Mr. BERMAN. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 388, the Crane Conservation Act of 2009. I strongly endorse this effort to provide financial resources and foster international cooperation to restore and perpetuate healthy populations of endangered species and to protect threatened habitats.

This bill establishes a fund to support specific conservation activities by ``any wildlife management authority'' of a foreign country that meets certain criteria, as well as groups and individuals with demonstrated, relevant expertise. While supporting such efforts is a key element of any effective conservation strategy, it seems to me that such funding in effect constitutes a new form of foreign assistance that ought to be carefully coordinated with our other foreign aid programs.

In the first place, it is essential that the Secretary of the Interior, who will be administering these programs, consult closely with the Secretary of State to ensure that these activities will not conflict with our overall foreign policy objectives. For instance, if there are problems with corruption or transparency and accountability in a particular government, the State Department would be in a better position to know which entities are reliable partners, and to ensure that funding is not diverted to unauthorized purposes. There may also be some countries to which all other government-to-government aid has been terminated for political or human rights reasons, and in which these conservation activities ought to be conducted exclusively through non-governmental organizations.

Secondly, the State Department, the United States Agency for International Development, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the Peace Corps and other foreign policy agencies may be carrying out their own environmental programs in a given--country. The conservation activities supported by this new fund must be coordinated with ongoing and planned efforts of such agencies in order to avoid duplication and overlap and to seize openings for collaboration. Without a mechanism for consultation with the State Department and USAID, opportunities to build synergy among programs will be lost and the risks of waste and inefficiency will escalate.

In light of these concerns, I would strongly urge that in implementing these new provisions, the Secretary of Interior develop a mechanism for full and meaningful consultation with the State Department, USAID and the foreign policy agencies under the Department's guidance.

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