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unfortunate since the U.S. stil1 wields significant weight in Antarctic Treaty matters and its position will undoubtedly influence many nations that remain
undecided about CRAMRA and the Australian/French proposal. Passage of H.R. 4514 will ensure that u.s. nationals do not impact Antarctica and thic sur
diplomats will vigorously pursue international negotiations to protec
Antarctica as a world park forever closed to commercial mining acti .cies.
Mr. DE LUGO. Thank you very much, attorney Manheim.
And now we will hear from the representative of the Antarctica Project, Ms. Hurwich. I see that you're accompanied and there's someone else at the table there.
Ms. HURWICH. This is my colleague, Jim Barnes, who's here to assist if I need any help on questions.
Mr. DE LUGO. Thank you very much.
Ms. HURWICH. I'm Évelyn Hurwich, associate director of the Antarctica Project. Jim Barnes is the executive director.
And we represent the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition, which is a group of over 200 environmental groups around the world, all concerned with full protection of Antarctica.
Also today, we represent a group of 10 major U.S. environmental groups, representing more than 14 million citizens who want to see Antarctica protected.
We are fully committed to the full protection of Antarctica as a scientific preserve, a wilderness area, a wildlife sanctuary, and a zone of permanent peace.
We are unanimous in the view that any oil or mining in the Antarctic would be fully incompatible with protection concerns. We don't believe that there's any way safe mining can occur and we are opposed to the minerals convention known as CRAMRA.
The Antarctic Treaty, as Bruce mentioned, has not established many of the most basic elements of a regulatory system. This is one of the features of H.R. 4514 that we admire. It's very important that we have a comprehensive approach to environmental protection in the environment that has been sorely lacking.
There are no institutions to address infractions of rules that are established. There's no equivalent of an Environmental Protection Agency to establish substantive standards. There's no enforcement mechanism, no liability system, no dispute resolution system. And we're concerned that these things are greatly needed and we want to support their enactment.
The current situation is that there are a wide range of—every country has their own view about what rules apply, whether they're mandatory and how to apply them. And there's a wide range of compliance and noncompliance within the Treaty system.
For the most part, public participation within the system is very limited. We would like to see that all the new institutions that are established and procedures include public participation, particularly of nongovernmental organizations and we are heartened to see some of these provisions in H.R. 4514.
In this regard, I want to note that we believe-the comment's been heard today that this is a unilateral action and that this is not effective. But we believe that H.R. 4514 goes a long way to do the most that we can do as far as regulating our own nationals and activating other countries within the Antarctic Treaty system to protect the Antarctic as a world park, to ban mineral activities in the Antarctic and to work towards a comprehensive conservation agreement.
So we don't think, even though it is unilateral action, that that will decrease its effectiveness at this stage.
We urge that Congress play a larger oversight role concerning U.S. activities and pelisse in the Antarctic. As you've heard today, activities are mounting there rapidly and so are the negative environmental impacts. The need for protection of the Antarctic as a whole, I don't think I can overstress. We welcome the efforts of the State Department to negotiate a protocol with measures that we believe are important, with standards and enforcement measures to dispute resolution.
But we're concerned that this is yet again a piecemeal approach and we desperately need to look at the Antarctic as a complete ecosystem. And therefore we strongly endorse the Australian and French proposals you've heard about to negotiate a comprehensive convention. This is one of our, I think, strongest points about the international proposals and about Mr. Vento's bill that we support-the comprehensive nature of it.
Antarctica is often described as the Earth's last great wilderness and it's at a critical juncture, the future of Antarctica. The minerals convention you've heard about could lead to the exploitation of this unique continent and, as you know, here today has been the subject of international debate around the world. And attention is being focused on what are the alternatives to CRAMRA and what would be the implications of ratifying CRAMRA.
As you know, Australia and France have proposed the urgent ne gotiation of a comprehensive convention that would include a ban on all minerals activities in the Antarctic. We support this ban and we are heartened to see that the ban is included in H.R. 4514 and the provisions of that act.
Since Australia and France said they did not want to participate in CRAMRA any longer, several other countries have come forward. As you've mentioned, New Zealand recently made a very strong statement that they have abandoned CRAMRA and they will not return to it. Several other countries have done the same and we believe, as most observers can now recognize, that CRAMRA is politically a dead instrument. We urge United States leadership, particularly at the Chile meeting that it's critical that the United States use its influence to bring the treaty parties to consensus again, to move away from minerals activities in the Antarctic and support comprehensive protection.
We would urge that Congress send some congressional observers to the committee meetings because we think that it will be such an important event and we want to see that it's the first in a series of meetings and that the negotiations don't end here.
The adoption of H.R. 4514 would serve two fundamental goals that we fully support. The first would be to galvanize a U.S. foreign policy in much the same way that Will Steger's group has galvanized public awareness of Antarctica. We hope that H.R. 4514 would galvanize a foreign policy that's aware of the dangers to the Antarctic environment and support designation of the area as a world park.
Second, to implement domestic legislation in a regulatory scheme limiting the negative impacts of our own nationals. Therefore, we enthusiastically support the inclusion of many of the provisions of H.R. 4514 in the legislative agenda to protect the environment. We salute Congressman Vento and the other sponsors of the bill. We hope that—there's so many bills on the table at this time and moving through Congress, we consider it most urgent that a minerals bill be passed this Congress so that the minerals question can be put aside and we can focus our attention on comprehensive protection, which-this is a very vast continent and it will take a long time to do such an inventory and plan and to get the agreement of other nations to participate in such a venture.
In that connection, we urge that the Conte bill, the Antarctic Protection and Conservation Act of 1990, H.R. 3977, would be enacted during this session. This is urgently needed to bring the United States to a leadership position in Chile. Its companion bill in the Senate, introduced by John Kerry, is all ready to go to the Senate floor having come out of Foreign Relations Committee last week. We recognize the Interior Committee has a legitimate interest in the Conte bill and in Antarctic matters and we hope that any sequential referral will not delay enactment of this important legislation.
Finally, Antarctica is in a very delicate balance. Its creatures are uniquely adapted to the difficult conditions of the land and to each other. We commend those governments and politicians that will take the step and have the courage to go beyond the status quo and the piecemeal approach that our Government has been proposing in Antarctica and that they will establish this area as a land of science and wilderness park.
I can finish there and I welcome your questions. [Prepared statement of Ms. Hurwich, with attachments, follow:) STATEMENT OF EVELYN N. HURWICH
INSULAR AND INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS
I an Evelyn N. Hurvich, Associate Director and Counsel with The Antarctica Project. The Antarctica Project, a non-profit organization in washington, D.C., serves as the northern benisphere secretariat for the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC), which includes zore than 200 environmental and conservation organizations in 48 nations around the world. ASOC members are strongly committed to the full and persanent protection of Antarctica as a science preserve and wildlife sanctuary, vilderness area and place of special aesthetic, spiritual, scenic and other values. We are unanimous in the view that any mining or oil drilling in the fragile Antarctic