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Public Statements

International Conservation Corps Act of 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. MORAN. Mr. Speaker, today I am pleased to join my colleague ANDER CRENSHAW in introducing the ``International Conservation Corps Act of 2012'' (ICCA), legislation that will mobilize our large and growing community of retired conservation experts, in a voluntary capacity, to support the efforts of developing countries to sustainably manage their natural resources.

There is a significant deficit in the capability of most developing countries to successfully manage their natural resources, which is fundamental to sustainable development, poverty alleviation, conflict avoidance, good governance, and regional security. Countries with a great wealth of natural resources are often cursed with devastating poverty, corruption and civil war arising from disputes over control and distribution of these resources.

The International Conservation Corps Act will harness the vast experience of the United States in natural resource management and connect it with developing countries to help them operate and develop more sustainable programs.

Modeled after the Peace Corps, the ICCA program would offer retired land managers, both public and private sector employees, geologists, biologists, and park rangers the opportunity to volunteer their services to the foreign country.

The ICCA would cover the expenses necessary to deploy volunteers in other countries such as airfare, food, and lodging. The program will utilize volunteers who have long practical experience and are respected in their fields, and who are enthusiastic about opportunities to apply their knowledge and skills to assist other countries.

Under this proposal, the State Department would screen foreign government requests for assistance. Cleared requests would be forwarded to the Interior Department which would craft a prospectus that awards competitive grants to the nonprofit that assembles the best volunteer team and most meritorious application. Federal administrative costs would be minimal, ensuring tax payer funds are spent almost exclusively on ``boots on the ground.'' No more than $10 million could be appropriated per year. The cost of this program would be fully offset with savings from unexpended balances.

This proposal will be both a modest commitment and highly effective way to stretch our foreign aid dollars in advancing our national security interests of environmental stewardship, conflict avoidance, sustainable development and poverty alleviation.

I urge my colleagues to support this important legislation. Let's take advantage of this unique opportunity represented by the wave of highly qualified retiring U.S. professionals to help developing countries establish good governance.

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