Stakeholders speak on Cruz's climate change bill
by Manny Cruz
The Guam Daily Post
May 8, 2017
"Go to Agat and witness the concrete power poles that are now in the waters next to the Agat Marina. It is time to act now." – Angel Sablan, executive director of the Mayors Council of Guam
Stakeholders on May 3 testified mostly in support of Speaker Benjamin Cruz's legislation designating the University of Guam as the island's lead climate change agency.
The bill would also appropriate Tourist Attraction Funds toward climate change-related research through the Island Sustainability Outreach and Action (ISOA) program, which will be administered by the university's Center for Island Sustainability and Sea Grant Program.
"We need to act now. Our mayors are ready to engage," said Angel Sablan, executive director of the Mayors Council of Guam. "The longer we doubt the reality of climate change and do nothing, the more it increases the chances that something will happen. Go to Agat and witness the concrete power poles that are now in the waters next to the Agat Marina. It is time to act now."
Ordot-Chalan Pago Mayor Jesse Gogue has been a staunch advocate of watershed and environmental preservation.
Last year, Gogue publicly opposed the Pago Bay Marine Resort, as well as future developments in the southern portion of Guam that could be harmful to the island's natural resources.
If approved, Cruz's bill would appropriate $350,000 to ISOA next fiscal year. Vice Speaker Therese Terlaje questioned whether this was an appropriate use of TAF funding.
Bringing science to the people
Austin Shelton, associate director of the university's College of Natural and Applied Sciences, said that while his expertise is in the sciences, he believes ISOA would allow scientists to bring climate change education and outreach to the village level.
"It's our job in extension to bring science to the people in a format that is both useful and usable," Shelton said.
Last fiscal year, hotel tax collections increased by $3.9 million due to an increase in tourism arrivals. The TAF, however, is the main source of repayment of nearly $60 million in new debts since 2011, Post files state.
Guam Visitors Bureau President Jon Nathan Denight said that while GVB supports the intent of Cruz's bill, it does not approve of appropriating next fiscal year's funds without "working through" the government's budget process.
"Currently, our island's tourism industry is at a crossroads," Denight said. "Additional investments into attracting new air service and improving our island's infrastructure are needed to ensure a sustainable and thriving tourism industry."
Speaker Cruz Doubles Down on Fight Against Climate Change
Creates Council on Climate change/Sustainable Outreach Program
Office of Speaker BJ Cruz
(April 17, 2017 – Hagåtña) At a time when island nations throughout the Pacific have lost land and lives to rising sea levels and extreme weather, Speaker Benjamin J.F. Cruz is calling for Guam to craft a more comprehensive approach to combating climate change on Guam. Introduced earlier today, the set of sustainability measures would establish a local Council on Climate Change Preparedness and Resiliency (C3PR) (Bill No. 79-34), and designate the University of Guam (UOG) as the lead agency on climate change through the creation of the Island Sustainability Outreach and Action Program (Bill No. 80-34).
According to a 2011 report authored by the Brookings Institution and the London School of Economics, between 665,000 and 1.7 million people in the Pacific alone could be displaced or forced to migrate by 2050 due to the effects of climate change .
“We didn’t do much to cause climate change but Islands in the Pacific represent the front line of a global fight against its consequences,” said Cruz. “As I speak, residents of islands like Nauru, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Fiji, and the Marshall Islands are fast becoming climate change refugees—where do we think they will go when they have no home?”
Cruz introduced his measures following President Trump’s recent executive order  reversing decades of environmental protections, including several key Obama-era initiatives. The Speaker notes, that—given the clear, scientific consensus on climate change—the need to specifically address sustainability on Guam is more pressing than ever.
A recent report issued by the United States Environmental Protection Agency indicates that climate variability continues to adversely impact the natural environment of Guam. Increasing ocean warming and acidification have resulted in “record-breaking” coral bleaching—harming Guam’s marine ecosystems and further exacerbating marine life for hundreds of species of reef-dwelling fish that rely on a healthy coral reef habitat for survival .
“President Trump can afford to deny climate change. He has a fallout shelter in his basement. Islands in the Pacific neither have the luxury nor the time to indulge in his alternative facts,” said Cruz.
Under Bill No. 79-34, Cruz’s C3PR would support the efforts of Governor Calvo’s Climate Change Task Force— established by Executive Order 2015-8—by serving as a policy-recommending body of the Guam Legislature. As a result, members of the Legislature would work collaboratively with the Governor’s Task Force as well as representatives from UOG and the Consolidated Commission on Utilities to craft specific policy recommendations on issues such as climate change resilience, displacement, waste management, pollution control, and environmental governance.
To further enhance awareness, Cruz’s second measure establishes an Island Sustainability Outreach and Action program under UOG to coordinate and conduct research, outreach, and educational programs throughout Guam’s villages. According to Cruz, these efforts align directly with the needs identified by the 2015 Department of the Interior Stakeholder Meeting  for“climate-related professional and technical positions in community agencies.” Moreover, because a healthy marine ecosystem and coral reef are crucial to attracting and maintaining tourists to Guam’s diving spots, a point recently noted by the Guam Visitor’s Bureau , the program will be funded through the Tourist Attraction Fund.
“When so many of our private sector jobs are driven by our sand, sea and surf—climate change represents a clear and present danger to our economy,” said Cruz. “We need a comprehensive approach that focuses on the kind of place we want Guam to be for our children in 30 years. If not, future generations will look back at this time and say: ‘the signs were so clear, why did they do nothing?’”
For more information, please contact the Office of Speaker Benjamin J.F. Cruz at #477-2520.
Speaker Cruz: Bills battle climate change
by Shawn Raymundo
Pacific Daily News
April 18, 2017
Speaker Benjamin Cruz introduced a pair of sustainability measures this week to strengthen Guam’s efforts to combat climate change.
The first would create the local Council on Climate Change Preparedness and Resiliency; the second would appoint the University of Guam to lead the island’s research and outreach on climate change.
“We didn’t do much to cause climate change, but islands in the Pacific represent the front line of a global fight against its consequences,” Cruz said in a press release. “As I speak, residents of island like Nauru, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Fiji and the Marshall Islands are fast becoming climate change refugees — where do we think they will go when they have no home?”
Citing recent findings from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Cruz said Guam has seen an increase in ocean warming and acidification, which is harming the island’s marine ecosystem.
According to Cruz, the council created under Bill 79-34 would serve as a policy-recommending body of the Legislature. It would be tasked to work with the governor’s Climate Change Task Force, the university and the Consolidated Commission on Utilities to recommend policy.
Bill 80-34 intends to create the Island Sustainability Outreach and Action program at UOG. It would be the leader in climate change education and research, and responsible for community outreach throughout Guam’s villages.
“We need a comprehensive approach that focuses on the kind of place we want to be for our children in 30 years,” Cruz said.
Cruz’s measures comes at a time when President Donald Trump has worked to dismantle several Obama-era protections meant to combat climate change.
“President Trump can afford to deny climate change. He has a fallout shelter in his basement,” Cruz said. “But islands in the Pacific neither have the luxury nor the time to indulge in his alternative facts.”