President vetoes water bill

Posted: Sunday, October 08, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Clinton vetoed a $23.6 billion energy and water bill spending bill Saturday, saying it poses environmental harm by blocking his plans to let the Missouri River ebb and flow with the seasons.

The issue has set environmentalists and upriver recreation interests against downstream farmers and barge shippers.

The measure for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1 had passed the House, 301-118, and the Senate, 57-37, but the latter vote would fall short of the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto.

The bill contained about $78 million for Alaska, including $30 million in funding for the Denali Commission next year and $7 million to rebuild a dam that collapsed in the Southeast Alaska community of Kake.

In a statement, Clinton said a rider attached to the overall bill jeopardizes the survival of three threatened and endangered species.

''It would also establish a dangerous precedent aimed at barring a federal agency from obeying one of our nation's landmark environmental statutes,'' he said.

The president also complained that the overall bill is larded with ''scores of special projects for special interests.''

And he said Congress failed to include enough money for a long list of priority concerns, including the environmental restoration of the Florida Everglades, the California-Bay Delta initiative and a plan to restore endangered salmon in the Pacific Northwest.

''It also failed to fund efforts to research and develop non-polluting sources of energy through solar and renewable technologies that are vital to America's energy security,'' he said.

''I urge Congress to quickly produce an energy-water bill I can sign,'' Clinton said.

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