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Message to the House of Representatives Returning Without Approval Energy and Water Development Appropriations Legislation

October 07, 2000

To the House of Representatives:

I am returning herewith without my approval, H.R. 4733, the "Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act, 2001." The bill contains an unacceptable rider regarding the Army Corps of Engineers' master operating manual for the Missouri River. In addition, it fails to provide funding for the California-Bay Delta initiative and includes nearly $700 million for over 300 unrequested projects.

Section 103 would prevent the Army Corps of Engineers from revising the operating manual for the Missouri River that is 40 years old and needs to be updated based on the most recent scientific information. In its current form, the manual simply does not provide an appropriate balance among the competing interests, both commercial and recreational, of the many people who seek to use this great American river. The bill would also undermine implementation of the Endangered Species Act by preventing the Corps of Engineers from funding reasonable and much-needed changes to the operating manual for the Missouri River. The Corps and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are entering a critical phase in their Section 7 consultation on the effects of reservoir project operations. This provision could prevent the Corps from carrying out a necessary element of any reasonable and prudent alternative to avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of the endangered least tern and pallid sturgeon, and the threatened piping plover.

In addition to the objectionable restriction placed upon the Corps of Engineers, the bill fails to provide funding for the California-Bay Delta initiative. This decision could significantly hamper ongoing Federal and State efforts to restore this ecosystem, protect the drinking water of 22 million Californians, and enhance water supply and reliability for over 7 million acres of highly productive farmland and growing urban areas across California. The $60 million budget request, all of which would be used to support activities that can be carried out using existing authorities, is the minimum necessary to ensure adequate Federal participation in these initiatives, which are essential to reducing existing conflicts among water users in California. This funding should be provided without legislative restrictions undermining key environmental statutes or disrupting the balanced approach to meeting the needs of water users and the environment that has been carefully developed through almost 6 years of work with the State of California and interested stakeholders.

The bill also fails to provide sufficient funding necessary to restore endangered salmon in the Pacific Northwest, which would interfere with the Corps of Engineers' ability to comply with the Endangered Species Act, and provides no funds to start the new construction project requested for the Florida Everglades. The bill also fails to fund the Challenge 21 program for environmentally friendly flood damage reduction projects, the program to modernize Corps recreation facilities, and construction of an emergency outlet at Devil's Lake. In addition, it does not fully support efforts to research and develop nonpolluting, domestic sources of energy through solar and renewable technologies that are vital to America's energy security.

Finally, the bill provides nearly $700 million for over 300 unrequested projects, including: nearly 80 unrequested projects totaling more than $330 million for the Department of Energy; nearly 240 unrequested projects totaling over $300 million for the Corps of Engineers; and, more than 10 unrequested projects totaling in excess of $10 million for the Bureau of Reclamation. For example, more than 80 unrequested Corps of Engineers construction projects included in the bill would have a longterm cost of nearly $2.7 billion. These unrequested projects and earmarks come at the expense of other initiatives important to taxpaying Americans.

The American people deserve Government spending based upon a balanced approach that maintains fiscal discipline, eliminates the national debt, extends the solvency of Social Security and Medicare, provides for an appropriately sized tax cut, establishes a new voluntary Medicare prescription drug benefit in the context of broader reforms, expands health care coverage to more families, and funds critical investments for our future. I urge the Congress to work expeditiously to develop a bill that addresses the needs of the Nation.


The White House,

October 7, 2000.

William J. Clinton, Message to the House of Representatives Returning Without Approval Energy and Water Development Appropriations Legislation Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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