The Morris K. Udall Foundation was established by the Congress in 1992, in honor of Congressman Udall and his lifelong work in the beneficial use, enjoyment, and exploration of our nation's natural resources. The trustees are appointed to set the priorities of the programs outlined by Congress when Public Thaw 102-259 was passed creating the Foundation. Congress charged the Foundation and its trustees with increasing awareness and understanding amongst our citizens of the "...role of the environment, public lands and resources in the development of the United States." Truly, this was a recognition by our legislative leadership of the importance of our environmental and natural resources to the sustainability of our national assets and the responsible use of them by those who follow us.
It is significant to me that you are considering my nomination today, because I have dedicated most of my professional activities to work in the health sciences, environmental/public health sectors, natural resources conservation, and environmental protection program administration. I now serve on the Board of the National Wildlife Federation, the largest grassroots conservation organization in the United States founded in 1936. NWF stands for a balanced approach between the need to use our natural resources for the benefit our people and the need to conserve them for future generations. I believe that Congressman Udall took this same approach in his public work in environmental policy; I will be proud to sit as a trustee on the Foundation to carry on this message.
Of importance in carrying forth the purposes of the Foundation as enumerated by Congress is the scholarship and fellowship awards given to graduate and undergraduate students in our colleges and universities. Utilizing our student population to "...identify critical environmental issues..." and provide educational outreach through their work is the legacy which we leave for the sustainability of our environmental assets.
Throughout my career, a good deal of my volunteer time has been spent in the recruitment of students into environmental health, policy and science fields. Most of my mentoring with students has been within disadvantaged and ethnically diverse communities in New Mexico and California. So, I was particularly pleased to see that Native American and Alaska Native health care issues were a strong part of the Foundation's work. To sit as a trustee on the Udall Foundation, which rewards excellence for students with interests in environmental policy and sciences, will allow the foundation to utilize my skills and knowledge in promoting future environmental stewards. My experience in working with ethnically diverse and non-traditional students will serve to provide a distinct view on the scholarship and academic awards provided through the Foundation.
One of the most exciting activities which the Foundation promotes is environmental conflict resolution. Federal, state, and tribal agencies have been increasingly involved in lawsuits challenging their regulatory actions. How much better to resolve the differences out of the courtroom where only one party is the winner and move to a mediation process built around recognizing the needs and values of all parties involved. Congressman Udall was a consensus builder, and the Foundation will carry on this approach to environmental disputes and issue resolution. I endorsed this approach of reaching a mediated consensus during my tenure as New Mexico's Environment Secretary. As Chair of both the Water Quality Commission and the Hardrock Mining Commission, regulations were adopted only after several months of negotiations between over six different state agencies and most of the large industries and businesses in the state. I used public comment and participation as a tool to direct both the state's policy framework and compliance criteria for the regulated industry. My experience with conflict resolution processes will be a compliment to the Foundation Board of Trustees future plans to develop forums for resolving issues critical to our country's use of its natural resources.
Mr. Chairman, I thank you for this wonderful opportunity to present my testimony before the Committee. I will be pleased to answer any questions you may have.