Clinton vetoes $23 billion energy and water bill

Calling a Republican-approved bill funding water and energy directives “deeply flawed”, the president urged new legislation which he could sign.

As was widely expected, Clinton vetoed the far-reaching Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act, 2001, on 7 October. The veto is likely to be sustained, as Senate votes for the bill fell 10 short of the amount necessary to override it when it was passed on 2 October.

“Today I vetoed a deeply flawed energy-water appropriations bill that threatens major environmental harm by blocking our efforts to modernise operations on the Missouri River,” Clinton said in a statement. “This anti-environmental rider would not only jeopardise the survival of three threatened and endangered species, but would also establish a dangerous precedent aimed at barring a federal agency from obeying one of our nation’s landmark environmental statutes.”

Clinton had objected to a section of the bill preventing the state from raising the artificially lowered spring flow on the Missouri River to benefit wildlife with the more natural seasonal flow. Environmentalists together with federal deputies from upriver states applauded Clinton’s stance, saying that wildlife and recreation were threatened by Missouri’s farm and barge interests. However, Missouri deputies said countered this, saying that increasing the river’s spring flow would cause flooding on farmland and harm the barge industry.

This was not Clinton’s sole reason for the veto, however. “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,” Clinton said.

The president also objected to the bill’s funding of “scores of special projects for special interests”, whilst failing to provide sufficient funding for “priorities in the national interest, such as the environmental restoration of the Florida Everglades and the California-Bay Delta, and the administration’s strategy to restore endangered salmon in the Pacific Northwest”.

The bill would have allocated significant funds to various government departments dealing with water and energy including the Department of Civil Defense, the Department of the Interior and the Department of Energy. Among the scores of proposals contained in the $23 billion package money would have been allocated to were: $60 million extra towards renewable energy, flood control projects on the Mississippi River and its tributaries, wetlands protection, land reclamation, drought assistance, uranium facilities maintenance and remediation and nuclear waste disposal, closure and environmental restoration projects for defence facilities and restoration projects associated with the Cerro Grande fire.

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