HONOLULU—This week in Hawaiʻi, Department of the Interior leadership convened a workshop with federal partners and teams from several of the U.S. Territories —American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands — to discuss strategies to support the successful implementation of projects supported by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in the U.S. Territories.
The three-day workshop covered key infrastructure topics, including water, broadband, energy, legacy pollution, and built and natural infrastructure needs. Senior Advisor and Infrastructure Coordinator Winnie Stachelberg and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs Keone Nakoa helped lead the events, which further explored Territorial infrastructure needs and identified ways to work together to deliver significant climate and infrastructure support provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
Throughout the workshop, Department leadership highlighted ongoing efforts to ensure efficient disbursement of infrastructure funding to U.S. Territories, including for the WaterSMART grant and Ecosystem Restoration programs. These efforts will help ensure U.S. Territories have the investments they need to develop a long-term plan to facilitate conservation, resiliency, and economic growth.
In an effort to further support the Territories, Senior Advisor Stachelberg announced the Department’s intention to designate a Territorial carve-out targeted to ecosystem restoration infrastructure needs. In addition, Deputy Assistant Secretary Nakoa also announced that the grant application deadline for Technical Assistance Program activities, including general Technical Assistance, Maintenance Assistance, and Coral Reef and Natural Resources, will be extended an additional two weeks, to April 15, 2022.
During the visit, Infrastructure Coordinator Stachelberg also met with Native Hawaiian Community leaders from Native Hawaiian-serving agencies and organizations to similarly explore their infrastructure needs and ways to access significant climate and infrastructure support provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. She and city and state representatives specifically explored how the Department can continue to support the infrastructure needs for the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act’s homesteading program.
Earlier this year, Secretary Deb Haaland, agency leadership, and representatives from the White House convened Territorial leadership at the Interagency Group on Insular Areas (IGIA) to discuss the implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and how any programs administered through the Departments of the Interior, Transportation, Energy, Agriculture, Commerce and the Environmental Protection Agency could address needs in the U.S. Territories. This week’s workshop was held as a follow-up to the IGIA and furthered those efforts. (PR)
Participants at the Climate Infrastructure Workshop in Hawaiʻi included agency leadership, congressional staff, and senior White House officials representing:
• Department of the Interior
• White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs
• Department of Agriculture
• Department of Commerce
• Department of Energy
• Environmental Protection Agency
• Department of Transportation
• Department of Treasury
• Department of Veterans Affairs (PR)