MICRONESIAN CONSERVATION AND SUSTAINABILITY CHAMPION NOAH IDECHONG is the new Executive Director for the Micronesia and Polynesian Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. TNC made the announcement today, praising him as "a recognized leader in championing conservation in Palau and across the Pacific." Idechong is a marine biologist and graduate of University of Hawai'i. He is an
advocate of Palau and Hawai'i becoming two of the top places on the planet for conservation of coral reefs.
Idechong served as TNC Micronesia's interim director for the last several months, and has been a senior advisor for TNC's large-scale fisheries management since 2015, focused on moving the region's multi-
billion dollar tuna fisheries towards greater sustainability.
He is a recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize, a Pew Fellowship recipient, and is founding executive director of the Palau Conservation Society. Idechong encouraged and helped the northern Chiefs of Palau establish the first modern Bul (restriction) across state boundaries to protect spawning channels for groupers and other marine species important to Palauan livelihoods. Bul is the strictest tool in the traditional system still used by Chiefs to protect a resource.
|Noah Idechong, The Nature Conservancy's new|
Executive Director for Micronesia and Polynesia,
is a graduate of University of Hawai'i.
|U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele flying back to Washington to work on passage|
of the Build Back Better Act, approved by the House today, and
moving on to the U.S. Senate. Photo from Kahele
Kahele's efforts in crafting Build Back Better and the Infrastructure & Jobs Act include the following:
Secured increased investment in wastewater management funding.
$250 million over five years to a grant program that allows nonprofit organizations to receive funds for the construction, repair, or replacement of decentralized wastewater systems for low or moderate income households, or groups of such households. The program gives priority to households that do not have access to sanitary sewer disposal systems.
$150 million for grants to States, municipalities and nonprofits to address cesspools and to construct, repair or replace decentralized wastewater systems in the Build Back Better Act.
Historic investments for the Native Hawaiian community including:
An additional two-year extension of 100 percent Federal Medical Assistance Percentages for Native Hawaiian Health Centers first authorized in the American Rescue Plan;
$50 million for distribution to Papa Ola Lōkahi and the Native Hawaiian Health Care Systems, serving communities throughout the neighbor islands.
$200 million for Native American and Native Hawaiian language and early childhood educator training and professional development
Allowing for Medicare to negotiate drug pricing for the first time which will lower prescription drug prices for all Americans.
Allows the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate the prices of up to ten drugs for plan year 2025, which then ramps up to 20 drugs by plan year 2028 and each plan year after;
Lowers cost of prescription drugs by 25 percent to 60 percent;
Lowers insulin costs so that Americans with diabetes don't pay more than $35 per month for insulin.
Creating universal, comprehensive paid family and medical leave for the first time in the United States.
Starting in January 2024, all workers will be eligible for paid leave for new parents, workers dealing with their own serious medical issues or workers who need leave to care for a loved one with a serious illness by providing workers with a not taxed federal benefit that will replace wages by about two-thirds for the average worker.
The most transformative investments in keiki and caregiving in generations including:
Extending the Child Tax Credit for one more year, continuing to lift millions of American children out of poverty;
$100 billion to support high quality child care during the first three years by increasing wages for early childhood workforce and investing in child care quality and supply. This bill would also cap families' child care copayments to ensure that no eligible family pays more than 7 percent of their income on child care;
$18 billion to carry out a universal, high quality, free preschool program;
$1 billion for grants for land grant universities, which includes support for Native Hawaiian serving institutions.
|Build Back Better image from the Education Trust|
$65 billion to address the capital needs backlog of public housing;
$10 billion to provide first-time, first-generation homebuyers with financial assistance;
$1 billion for Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities' housing and community development needs.
Setting United States on course to meet its climate targets through initiatives including:
$50 million for climate resilience and adaptation activities that serve the Native Hawaiian community;
Tax incentives and funding to spur the deployment of renewable energy, alternative, clean fuels, electric vehicles, energy efficiency, green buildings and the development of a skilled, green energy workforce.
Investing in veteran services by expanding Department of Veterans Affairs capacity.
$2.4 billion to address immediate and long-term infrastructure needs of the VA nationwide;
$268 million for the VA to conduct an education and training program for health professional students and residents by increasing its number of health professions residency positions.
Making long-overdue investments in infrastructure including:
Transportation - $1.2 billion to Hawaiʻi to address reconstruction, resurfacing and rehabilitation of highways; $339 million for bridge replacement and repairs in Hawaiʻi; $246 million for infrastructure development at airports in Hawaiʻi; $312 million to improve public transportation options across the state; and $18 million to support the expansion of an electric vehicle charging network in Hawai'i
Broadband Access - A minimum allocation of $100 million to help provide broadband coverage across the state which will reach at least 33,000 Hawai'i residents currently without broadband coverage; ensuring that 280,000 low income residents are eligible for the Affordability Connectivity Benefit so all families can access affordable internet; and $60 million for the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to provide high-speed internet access to more Native Hawaiian families.
|Acting State Director for Rural|
Development Denise Salmeron
USDA is investing in 536 projects through the Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grant Program. The assistance will fund essential community services that will help keep rural America resilient in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The projects will finance emergency response vehicles and equipment; build or improve hospitals and clinics; and combat food insecurity. There is expected to be similar funding in the future when Kaʻū agencies and organizations can apply. Examples in this round of funding are:
Moloka'i Land Trust - $200,000: This Rural Development investment will be used to purchase vehicles and heavy equipment to improve dirt roads to ensure safe access by staff, volunteers, researchers, and the general public to Native Hawaiian cultural sites and traditional gathering areas. Intense storms and hurricanes damaged more than six miles of dirt roads that lead to 4.5 miles of shoreline used for subsistence gathering, cultural learning, and restoration activities. This area is historically known for providing marine resources necessary for a subsistence lifestyle. Molokai Land Trust has been maintaining the access road system since 2010 through the support of multiple funders including USDA.
Government of Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency - $200,000: This Rural Development investment will be used to purchase three vehicles and complete repairs to the Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency's canine facility located in Tiyan, Guam. The vehicles and improvements to the canine facility will enhance the agency's efforts to prevent importation of illicit drugs and invasive species into the island.
More than 100 types of projects are eligible for Community Facilities funding. Eligible applicants include municipalities, public bodies, nonprofit organizations, and federally recognized Native American tribes. Projects must be in rural areas with a population of 20,000 or less. For more information, visit https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/community-facilities/community-facilities-direct-loan-grant-program.
Today’s investments complement the recently announced funding availability under USDA’s Emergency Rural Health Care Grant Program, which also is being administered through the Community Facilities program. Through this program, USDA is making up to $500 million available through the American Rescue Plan to help rural health care facilities, tribes and communities expand access to COVID-19 vaccines, health care services and nutrition assistance.
Take the survey at: www.accesstocarehawaii.org.