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VIDEO: Hirono Questions DOI Secretary Haaland on Protecting Hawaii’s Native Birds and Highlights Support of COFA, Indigenous Communities

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, questioned U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland on the need to protect Hawaii’s native birds and the importance of the Compacts of Free Association during a full committee hearing.

“I am hopeful that the strong partnership with federal, state, and nonprofit partners will advance key actions to prevent the extinction of these culturally and ecologically significant birds,” said Senator Hirono during the hearing. “In the last few months, there have been many hearings in the state legislature related to the efforts to save our endangered birds, and this engagement of our local youth—and Native Hawaiians, in particular—has been very important; it’s been very moving because these are young people who are passionate about their desire to save these remaining native birds.”

Secretary Haaland pledged her continued support for Hawaii’s initiatives to protect its native and endangered birds.

During her question line, Senator Hirono also emphasized the importance of ensuring that the Compacts of Free Association (COFA) agreements are in place before the end of the fiscal year and access to federal benefits are restored for COFA citizens living in the U.S.

“We need to restore access to federal benefits for these COFA citizens and I’d like to have that restoration language put in the Compacts,” said Senator Hirono. “This is not just funding the Compacts to the countries themselves, but also to provide and enable the citizens living in our country the kind of support that they should be entitled to.”

At the end of her question line, Senator Hirono commended Secretary Haaland for her commitment to support indigenous people, including Native Hawaiian communities.

A link to download video of Senator Hirono’s full question line is available here.

As a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Senator Hirono has championed legislation to protect Hawaii’s environment, fish, wildlife, and plants. In March, she joined the entire Hawaii Congressional delegation in urging the Director of the National Park Service (NPS) to prioritize the agency’s efforts to protect critically endangered Native Hawaiian forest birds. That same month, Senator Hirono also introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to restore access to a range of federal benefits for citizens of the Freely Associated States of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of Palau, who reside in the United States.