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Energy and Water Development Appropriation Act, 1980 Statement on Signing H.R. 4388 Into Law.

September 25, 1979

It is with mixed reactions that I sign H.R. 4388, the energy and water development appropriations bill.

With one major exception, this is a sound and responsible bill. It recognizes the need to hold down spending. It does not commit to unacceptable future expenditures. It provides for sound water projects and for energy development. It represents a commendable step by the Congress in the direction I have been urging through my water resources development and energy policies. It does not fund water projects which, at my request, were terminated in past appropriation bills, and it generally reflects restraints in water project funding.

On the other hand, this bill mandates the completion of the Tellico project on the Little Tennessee River. This project has been halted because of conflicts with the Endangered Species Act. A decision was made through a deliberative process to deal with these conflicts. A special Cabinet-level committee, authorized by the Congress, unanimously concluded that the project should not be completed, on economic grounds.

This action by the Congress overturns that decision and directs the flooding of the Little Tennessee River Valley. I am satisfied, however, that the Congress clearly confronted this issue and settled on its action with clear majority votes in both Houses. I accept, with regret, this action as expressing the will of the Congress in the Tellico matter. I am also convinced that even if I voted this bill, Tellico exemptions would be proposed repeatedly in the future.

Nevertheless, I believe firmly in the principles of the Endangered Species Act and will enforce it vigorously. I do not consider that the action by Congress on the Tellico matter implies congressional intent to overturn the general decision process for resolving conflicts under that act. I am convinced that this resolution of the Tellico matter will help assure the passage of the Endangered Species Act reauthorization without weakening amendments or further exemptions.

I also expect the Congress to move vigorously to solidify progress in water resources policy. Prompt action is needed to authorize and appropriate funds for the Water Resources Council water project review function, so that proper technical analysis can ensure executive branch recommendations for sound water projects. I believe firmly that my decision on the bill I am now signing will further progress on obtaining a strong Water Resources Council.

As President 1 must balance many competing interests. With many important national issues before the Congress—including energy, SALT, the department of education, the Panama Canal implementing legislation, the Endangered Species Act, and water resources policy—I believe that avoiding a divisive veto battle will helps focus congressional efforts on priority concerns.

Note: As enacted, H.R. 4388 is Public Law 96-69, approved September 25.

Jimmy Carter, Energy and Water Development Appropriation Act, 1980 Statement on Signing H.R. 4388 Into Law. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/248442

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