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Press Release

Committee Action Highlights Ongoing Commitment to the Freely Associated States and American Energy Production

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 8, 2023 | Committee Press Office (202-225-2761)
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Today, the House Committee on Natural Resources held a full committee markup and favorably reported four bills, including the bipartisan Compact of Free Association Amendments Act of 2023. Committee Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) issued the following statement in response:

"America's commitment to our allies in the Pacific is steadfast and unwavering. Chinese aggression and their malign influence in the region will not be tolerated by the U.S., and our work today on the Compacts of Free Association is a crucial step in cementing the special relationship we have with the Freely Associated States. Earlier this year, I led a bipartisan CODEL to all three of these island nations and saw firsthand the imminent threat the Chinese Communist Party poses to their security and economic stability. Today, we continue our commitment to our friends in the region and make it clear will not back down in the face of Chinese brinkmanship. This is an overwhelmingly bipartisan issue, and I hope to continue conversations with the Senate and the White House to find agreement on an appropriate offset for the increased funding. Today, the committee also advanced legislation codyfing access to our resources by supporting domestic energy production and mitigating the impacts of drought. Our committee is working hard to deliver solutions on both a global and domestic scale, and I look forward to seeing these bills pass out of the House and ultimately into law."


The House Committee on Natural Resources favorably reported a total of four bills out of committee today:

H.J. Res. 96, the Compact of Free Association Amendments Act of 2023introduced by House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.), approves and incorporates by reference agreements signed between the U.S. and three Pacific Island Countries, known as the Freely Associated States (FAS), of the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia, for the new Compact of Free Association (COFA) period, from Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 through FY 2043. The agreements include granting the United States sole and unfettered military access to the lands, waters and airspace of the FAS in exchange for economic assistance in grants and contributions to accountable trust funds, access to certain U.S. federal programs for COFA citizens and the ability for COFA citizens to live and work in the U.S. The COFA Amendments Act of 2023 would also strengthen oversight and accountability measures for U.S. implementation and management of the COFA economic provisions.

H.R. 1121the Protecting American Energy Production Act, introduced by U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), expresses the sense of Congress that states should maintain their own autonomy and decision-making authority for the regulation of hydraulic fracturing for oil and natural gas production on state and private lands. It also prohibits the president from declaring a moratorium on the use of hydraulic fracturing unless authorized by Congress.

H.R. 6008the Requiring Integrity in Conservation Efforts Act, introduced by U.S. Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.), gives the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration additional time to conduct studies and utilize the best available science on Rice’s whales and to engage with the regulated community when updating environmental documents for the Gulf of Mexico oil and gas program.

H.R. 4385, the Drought Preparedness Actintroduced by U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.), extends authorizations for emergency authorities that allow the Bureau of Reclamation to mitigate the impacts of severe drought in western states.

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