Austin Shelton, the executive director of the UOG Center for Island Sustainability, is setting the record straight after attacks over the legislature’s introduction of an amendment re-appropriating $500,000 from the Recycling Revolving Fund to the University’s G3 initiative.
In the latest attack, the Republican Party called for a repeal of the amendment appropriating the funding for G3 and raised concerns over conflict of interest issues.
Concerns that the amendment was snuck into the budget bill were also raised.
Austin Shelton. who is the head of the Center for Island Sustainability, addressed these issues in an exclusive interview with PNC. CIS manages the G3 initiative.
Shelton says he is disheartened by the accusation that G3 raided the Recycling Revolving Fund.
“Guam Green Growth is a Government of Guam — an islandwide initiative that was signed to the University of Guam and facilitated through Executive Order 2019-23. The purpose is not to enhance us. We were willing to take on this responsibility to facilitate G3 because it is really our island’s most comprehensive action plan ever —- created to achieve a sustainable future.”
“With that in mind and the role of facilitating it, I vetted a plan by EPA officials. I have even spoken to the previous chair before I brought it before the Committee on Appropriations, testifying in a public hearing on August 4 where the Recycling Revolving Fund was being discussed,” Shelton said.
He added: “I explained what G3 is and what was needed for its success. It wasn’t snuck by anyone. And so, after the Office of Finance and Budget and Sen. San Agustin decided to place it into the budget bill, there was actually a stronger statement of support that we could hope for,” Shelton said, adding, “G3 was again discussed at length during the budget public hearing — where the majority of the senators — they ultimately agreed to its inclusion.”
In terms of accountability and transparency concerns, Shelton said he has no doubt about the UOG’s capability of managing local funds and federal grants.
Shelton also said that UOG has a great business office that can responsibly manage the G3 funds, pointing out that the University has consistently received clean audits for the past few years.
“The way that the budget bill was finalized was … we were still going to have to show our spending plan to the EPA board of directors where we will be vetted one more time before any expenditures are made,” Shelton said.
The legislature recently passed the amended budget bill and it is now up to the governor whether to approve or disapprove the measure.
Shelton provided an overview of G3 saying that it is the most comprehensive island-wide initiative ever created to achieve a sustainable future for Guam island.
The initiative started in 2019 to develop solutions to sustainability challenges and to contribute to a green economy for the island.
In support of G3, Governor Lou Leon Guerrero and Lt. Governor Tenorio signed an EO in September 2019, which created an 81-member G3 Working Group of government, academia, private sector, non-profit, and youth partners to collectively advance sustainability solutions.
The group includes the Mayors’ Council of Guam and the Guam EPA.
PNC will post Austin Shelton’s interview @ pncguam.com