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Statement on Signing the Garrison Diversion Unit Reformulation Act of 1986

May 12, 1986

I have signed H.R. 1116, the Garrison Diversion Unit Reformulation Act of 1986. This bill would implement certain recommendations of the Garrison Diversion Unit Commission report concerning the water needs of the State of North Dakota and related matters.

I wish to commend the many parties who worked together, most particularly Senator Mark Andrews, whose tenacious dedication led efforts, along with others, to settle the complex issues surrounding authorization and funding for a revised Garrison Diversion Unit. Despite the long and contentious history of the Garrison Diversion Unit, the citizens who have worked on both sides of the project have demonstrated that people of good will can reach consensus on the critical water development and environmental issues that face the Nation. Because both supporters and opponents were willing to drop past differences and work together, H.R. 1116 offers benefits to all of the parties who were involved in the negotiations.

We have consistently supported the fine work of the Garrison Diversion Unit Commission. In developing its recommendations, the Commission responded to the contemporary water needs of North Dakota. While this bill is generally based on the recommendations of the Commission, I regret that H.R. 1116 does not include amendments requested by the administration to ensure greater cost recovery for the project. However, the total cost of the revised project represented by this compromise is substantially less than anticipated under the original authorizations or under the Commission's recommendations, and major portions of the controversial project are deauthorized by this legislation. Of equal importance, H.R. 1116 responds to a unique problem that has been the subject of controversy for over 40 years, and therefore I view this compromise as an acceptable solution of this longstanding issue. It should not be perceived as altering, in any way, the administration's policy on cost recovery for water projects. Without these considerations, I could not have approved H.R. 1116.

Finally, section 9 of H.R. 1116 raises a constitutional concern that requires comment. That section provides for the establishment of a "Wetlands Trust" under the laws of North Dakota, but partially funded by an annual contribution of Federal funds. The trust is to be administered by a board of directors whose members would be appointed by the Governor of North Dakota and certain environmental organizations. The purposes of the trust, as stated in the bill and to be restated in its corporate charter, are to "preserve, enhance, restore, and manage wetland and associated wildlife habitat in the State of North Dakota." The corporate charter will authorize the trust to finance programs in support of those purposes.

I have been advised by the Department of Justice that because the trust officials are not Federal officers, the trust's allocation of Federal funds may raise a constitutional question under the appointments clause, article II, section 2, clause 2, unless the bill is given a careful narrowing construction. For this reason, I am signing H.R. 1116 based on the understanding that the language directing the Secretary of the Interior to make an annual Federal contribution to the trust means that the Secretary shall establish a grant agreement with the trust. The agreement should contain such terms as are consistent with constitutional and legal requirements and as are necessary to carry out the purposes of the trust, as defined in its corporate charter.

Note: H.R. 1116, approved May 12, was assigned Public Law No. 99-294.

Ronald Reagan, Statement on Signing the Garrison Diversion Unit Reformulation Act of 1986 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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