Gov requests infrastructure funding assistance to expedite a recycling program
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Gov. Lemanu P. S. Mauga has requested financial assistance from the Interior Department’s Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) to establish and set up the territory’s infrastructure for recycling.
The governor’s request was included in his written testimony presented earlier this month to the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing on the state of the U.S territories.
Lemanu informed the Congressional committee that the American Samoa government relies on its operations grants through DOI, and requested “continued support for those grants that are critical to the operation of our territory.”
He thanked Congress and requested continued support for the DOI’s Insular Affairs — ‘Assistance to Territories’ grants that are essential in helping with financial management; economic development; education; energy production; natural and cultural resources; and invasive species management.
Lemanu pointed out that for 25 years American Samoa's annual allocation of $10 million in operation grants remains unchanged despite the steady rise of costs for materials needed to complete projects.
“The overall cost of completing a project has increased for various reasons, namely the cost of fuel, materials, labor and supplies,” he explained.
“Increasing American Samoa's allocation to reflect the increasing costs as well as address the lack of planning funds would efficiently make a concept- ready project into a shovel- ready one.”
He also said that DOI has taken the lead in waiving local cost matching for all of its current funding opportunities available. And he hopes this initiative can be extended to other federal agencies providing funding to the territories.
“The waiver of local cost matching will relieve fiscal strain on our limited local funding,” he said and further requested “assistance from OIA in establishing and improving our Solid Waste Infrastructure for Recycling.”
Lemanu also requested that the federal government identify potential sources of funding to support the following projects:
• American Samoa Power Authority MSW Gasification Plant
• Transfer Stations
• Recycling Equipment (balers, scrap metal and tire shredders, etc.)
• Seed money to launch Governor's Recycling Program
The governor went on to express his appreciation for the flexibility provided in the federal Transportation Infrastructure Financing Innovation Act “which is crucial to seeing our infrastructure projects from design to completion.”
He said this federal legislation will help to close funding gaps with low-cost, long-term financing and speed the delivery of infrastructure projects, to help American Samoa get the financing necessary to improve the transportation systems in the community.
Another federal law that the governor spoke about is the Broadband Equity, Access, and Development (BEAD) Program, which he says will help to expand high-speed internet access to American Samoa and the other US Territories.
“American Samoa lags behind in the development of telecommunications and these grants... will help identify underserved areas and build an infrastructure to provide affordable and accessible connectivity for all,” he said.
According to the U.S National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) online publication, BEAD is a federal grant program that aims to get all Americans online by funding partnerships between states or territories, communities, and stakeholders to build infrastructure where we need it to and increase adoption of high-speed internet.
Furthermore, BEAD prioritizes un-served locations that have no internet access or that only have access under 25/3 Mbps and underserved locations that only have access under 100/20 Mbps.
As previously reported by Samoa News, ASG established last year the 10-member Broadband Core Working Group (BCWG) to ensure that American Samoa obtains the millions of dollars in new broadband infrastructure available through federal funding from NTIA. (See Samoa News online June 06, 2022 for details.)