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there. You need the help of a government like Chile where they have the air force capacity to back up a rescue.
You then have an avenue where you have a limited number that can fly in, let's say, in a C-130, maybe two or three flights a year. Then from there, at that base, you disperse them, either skiing or climbing. But it's still regulated.
And there then you have the loophole where you can allow certain expeditions and it's under certain guidelines, so you don't have these sporadic expeditions coming in and demanding rescue from your valuable time.
People in this room may not be aware of it but NSF's programs are very tight. They're planned 2 to 3 years ahead. And if you pull off the planes for a rescue, you disturb the whole intricate scientific program and the result is that a lot of science does not get done. So you run on such a tight ship there, NSF cannot afford to have a rescue craft available. That's just a huge amount of money.
But the idea of, let's say, working with Chile, where you allow a certain number of people to fly into the interior by air in one area might be a solution to that.
We found, working through a private charter company, we almost had disastrous results on that. We put a lot of money into that company. But still, any private company cannot come up with the capital to fully assure that you're going to have rescue backup. I think a private enterprise is highly unlikely-a safe private enterprise.
Because eventually on these tourist aircraft flights to the pole, you're going to see an accident. I mean it's a matter of casting dice unless it's regulated somehow. And I think we really have to look at the tourism. And the shipping is the big problem with the number of tourists on the peninsula right now.
But we have to approach the dilemma of aircraft. And I think the one way of doing that is through Ellsmere Island because you can regulate that.
Mr. DARDEN. Well, my greatest concern is that any legislation we pass not have the effect of bringing more people down there in such a way to disturb or inhibit the very valuable scientific research and exploration that goes on. So perhaps we can strike a balance.
Thank you very much for your time.
I, again, want to thank you, Will, for making the trek and for coming here before us this morning. You've been a great help to this subcommittee.
Mr. STEGER. Thank you.
Next, we're going to hear from the administration. We have a panel representing the administration.
We have Mr. Bill Houston, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Territorial and International Affairs, Department of the Interior. He's accompanied by Dr. Eugene Hester, Associate Director for Natural Resources, National Park Service, Department of the Interior.
Also on the panel will be Mr. Tucker Scully, Director, Office of Ocean Affairs, Department of State, and Dr. Peter Wilkniss, Director of Polar Programs, National Science Foundation.
I want to welcome all of you gentlemen here this morning. We have statements from Mr. Houston, from Mr. Scully and we have one from Dr. Wilkniss. And, without objection, all of your statements will be placed in the record in their entirety and we will proceed under the 5-minute rule and I would like to ask you if you could summarize your statements.
And let me first recognize the gentleman from the Interior Department, Deputy Assistant Secretary William Houston. PANEL CONSISTING OF BILL HOUSTON, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SEC
RETARY FOR TERRITORIAL AND INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS,
I am pleased to appear before the Subcommittee on Insular and International Affairs today to present the views of the Department on H.R. 4514.
The Department of the Interior recommends that H.R. 4514 not be enacted. Instead, we support the Convention on the Regulation of Antarctic Mineral Resource Activities as an appropriate alternative to enactment of H.R. 4514.
H.R. 4514 would direct the Secretary of the Interior to prepare an inventory of natural resources of Antarctica and to prepare a general management plan for Antarctica as a world park.
We do not support a unilateral resource inventory and a plan by the National Park Service. Such undertakings would cost millions of dollars, would take far longer than the periods set forth in the bill, and would require the application of skills and expertise unavailable to the National Park Service.
However, the Department does recognize the value and need for a comprehensive resource inventory and an internationally negotiated management program.
H.R. 4514 prohibits mining and mineral leasing in Antarctica. The bill would also require U.S. officials to make public mineral resource data pertaining to Antarctica..
The Department has been active in Antarctica for many years. The U.S. Geological Survey has probably the most knowledge of any Government agency about the geology and geography of this continent and adjacent seas. We would be pleased to have the U.S. Geological Survey brief this committee on what is known about the Antarctic at the committee's convenience.
We agree that protection of the unique Antarctic environment is essential. But passage of this bill would result in unilateral action on the part of the United States that cannot guarantee reciprocity from other nations with an interest in Antarctica.
The elimination of all mineral activity is apparently based on a premature assumption that mining and protection of the unique Antarctic environment are incompatible. Protection of the sensitive environment of Antarctica is essential. But there are examples of mining activity which has occurred in sensitive environments with successful implementation of safeguards.
A unilateral prohibition could dampen emerging and future technology that could offer even greater protection to the Antarctic environment. However unlikely it may seem now, it is possible to envision circumstances where shortage of critical mineral resources may force other nations to ignore our ban. Negotiating an effective agreement to protect the Antarctic environment under these circumstances would be very difficult.
Finally, the legislation may affect the foreign policy objectives of the United States. We defer to the views of the Department of State on such policy matters. Specifically, section 6(a)(4) would prevent the President from submitting any future agreement to the Senate for ratification that is inconsistent with this act. We defer to the Department of Justice on whether this provision infringes on the President's constitutional prerogatives.
We have a viable alternative to H.R. 4514. The Convention on the Regulation of Antarctic Mineral Resource Activities, or CRAMRA, represents a balanced and sound framework for addressing both environmental and mineral storehouse issues. The convention does not presume that mineral activities will take place but establishes an internationally agreed system for determining the acceptability of such activities should they be proposed in the future.
The U.S. policy regarding Antarctica is intended to preclude human activity that may harm the environment. And we have sought, through negotiations, an agreement that would protect the Antarctica environment and associated ecosystems. CRAMRA actually prohibits exploration and development of minerals unless there is a consensus that such activities can be accomplished in an environmentally sound manner.
The United States must keep its options open. Events in the Middle East remind us how interdependent our national economy is with the others in the world. This tense situation is a good example of how strategic outlook is subject to change.
In the future, similar challenges may confront us with regard to critical and strategic minerals. It is wise to make decisions based on knowledge. In short, we should know what's there and preserve the environment.
Mr. Chairman, that concludes my statement.
STATEMENT OF WILLIAM E. HOUSTON, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR FOR TERRITORIAL AND INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS, BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON INSULAR AND INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS, HOUSE COMMITTEE ON INTERIOR AND INSULAR AFFAIRS, CONCERNING H.R. 4514, THE PROPOSED ANTARCTICA WORLD PARK AND PROTECTION ACT OF 1990, SEPTEMBER 18, 1990
Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to appear before the Subcommittee
on Insular and International Affairs today to present the
views of the Department on H.R. 4514.
The Department of the Interior recommends that H.R. 4514 not
Regulation of Antarctic Mineral Resource Activities (CRAMRA) as an appropriate alternative to enactment of H.R. 4514.
ANTARCTICA WORLD PARK LEGISLATION
The Antarctica World Park
H.R. 4514 would direct the Secretary of the Interior, acting
through the Director of the National Park Service, (1) to
prepare, in two years, an inventory of the wilderness,
cultural, scenic, wildlife, marine, historic, environmental,
ecological, scientific, and other
and values of
Antarctica, and (2) to prepare, over a three year period, a
general management plan for Antarctica as a World Park. All United States activities would have to conform with the plan.
We do not support a unilateral resource inventory and plan by
the National Park Service.
Such undertakings would cost
millions of dollars, would take far longer than the two- or
three-year periods set forth in the bill, and would require the application of skills and expertise unavailable to the
National Park Service.
However, the Department recognizes the value and need for a
comprehensive resource inventory and management program.
upcoming Santiago meetings on comprehensive environmental protection measures address these issues.
Mining Prohibitions and Environmental Concerns
H.R. 4514 prohibits mining and mineral leasing in Antarctica
under the United States laws.
The bill would also require