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NFC: Fw: River Policy Update, Week of October 30, 2000

American Rivers Policy Update
For the week of October 30, 2000

To read the River Policy Update online, visit  


Weeks behind schedule, Congress and the Administration have yet to 
finalize work on three of the thirteen annual appropriations bills. 
Members of Congress will take up another 24-hour continuing 
resolution today (H. J. Res. 120) to provide stopgap funding for the 
federal government through midnight Tuesday. The bills still in limbo 
are Labor, Health, and Human Services and Education; Commerce, 
Justice, and State; and a tax bill. With President Clinton refusing 
to sign more than a one-day stopgap spending resolution, Congress 
spent the weekend in negotiations on the remaining appropriations 

Commerce, Justice, and State Appropriations Bill:
Last Thursday, the House passed the FY'02 Commerce, Justice, and 
State funding bill, which President Clinton has vowed to veto. H.R. 
4942 includes $37.5 billion for the departments of Commerce, Justice 
and State and the judiciary as well as the National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration and elements of the stalled Conservation 
and Reinvestment Act (CARA, H.R. 701).
        In its current form, the bill would provide NOAA with $3.05 
billion for NOAA, including $420 million for ocean, coastal and 
waterway conservation programs originally included in CARA. The 
National Marine Fisheries Service would receive $518 million. Members 
of Congress would provide just $45 of the $160 million requested by 
the Clinton Administration for Pacific coastal salmon recovery, 
subject to authorization, and $20 million for conservation funds to 
implement the 1999 US-Canada salmon agreement. More money for salmon 
recovery would come from the State Department section of the bill, 
which includes $40 million for the treaty. The bill also contains a 
multiyear authorization, from fiscal 2000 through 2003, totaling $140 
million for the two funds, $30 million for economic adjustment for 
fishermen, $90 million for direct payments to Alaska, Washington, 
Oregon and California, and $10 million for coastal tribes to enhance 
and restore salmon habitat.
        The provisions from CARA added to the Commerce, Justice, and 
State funding bill include creation of a $50 million wildlife, ocean 
and coastal conservation account to make grants to states to carry 
out wildlife conservation programs and $150 million in
FY'01 for coastal impact assistance to states with offshore drilling. 


Bills Heading to President Clinton:
On Friday, the Senate approved by unanimous consent a number of lands 
bills, clearing them for President Clinton's signature, including:
* H.R. 2941 to create a national conservation area in the 
Cienega Creek and Babocomari River watersheds in Arizona near Tucson;
* H.R. 4646 to designate 11,300 acres of wilderness in two 
areas in the George Washington National Forest in Virginia;
* H.R. 4312 to direct the National Park Service to study the 
suitability and feasibility of creating an Upper Housatonic Valley 
National Heritage Area in Connecticut;
* S. 2538 to add Cat Island, MS to the Gulf Islands National 
* H.R. 3388 to authorize $300 million in federal matching funds 
over ten years to clean up and restore Lake Tahoe's water quality and 
forest health;
* S. 1761 to authorize federal participation and funding for a 
water delivery and conservation system in the Lower Rio Grande Valley 
of Texas;
* H.R. 1444 to direct the Interior Department to develop and 
implement projects for fish screens, fish passage devices, and other 
similar measures.

WRDA Near Completion:
        The Water Resources Development Act of 2000 (WRDA, S. 2796) 
could come to the House and Senate floors at any time if conferees 
finish their talks. The omnibus legislation that authorized Corps of 
Engineers water projects contains $1.4 billion to restore the Florida 
Everglades Ecosystem (the main push for passing WRDA in the 106th 
Congress), but falls short of expectations of Corps Reform advocates 
in its failure to include significant reform measures.
        Among the numerous trouble spots in House-Senate negotiations 
were the 40 environmental infrastructure projects, worth more than 
$400 million, included in the House version of the bill. Conferees 
decided to remove those projects and attach them to the FY'01 
appropriations bill for Labor, Health, and Human Services and 
        For more information, see the River Policy Update for October 
23 at 

Estuary Bill Clears House, Headed for President's Desk:
        Last week, the House approved the conference report to an 
estuary restoration bill that included text from several other 
resource protection bills. The bill is now ready to go to President 
The conference report to the Estuaries and Clean Waters Act =96 S. 
835 =96
would create a national program to promote the restoration of 
estuaries and establish an interagency council to coordinate federal, 
state and local activities. The bill would authorize $275 million 
over five years for the Army Corps of Engineers for restoration 
        The conference report included provisions from the following 
* H.R. 3039, the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Act.
* H.R. 1237, to reauthorize the National Estuary Program
* H.R. 3313, the Long Island Sound Restoration Act 
* H.R. 2957, the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Restoration Act
* H.R. 1106, the Alternative Water Sources Act 
* H.R. 2328, to reauthorize the Clean Lakes Program
* H.R. 3378, the Tijuana River Valley Estuary and Beach Sewage 
Cleanup Act

California Electricity Resolution Passes:
Last Thursday, the House approved a non-binding resolution to 
expedite the public release of findings from a government probe into 
the causes of tripling electricity prices and power generation 
shortages that hit Southern California in the summer. H. Res. 650, 
introduced by Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA), expresses the sense of the 
House that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission should make 
public before November 1 its findings and recommendations concerning 
the electricity crisis in California.

Bill With Alaska Hydro Provision Passes House:
The House approved a bill to reauthorize the Strategic Petroleum 
Reserve after the Senate make substantial amendments to the bill. The 
vote clears the way for the bill to go to the president, who is 
expected to sign it. H.R. 2884 reauthorizes the authority of the 
Department of Energy to buy or lease oil for, operate, and draw down 
the Strategic Petroleum Reserve through Sept. 30, 2003. The measure 
also creates a permanent 2-million-barrel home heating oil reserve in 
the Northeast.
        Many environmental groups and the Clinton Administration 
expressed concern over a provision added to the bill by Senator Frank 
Murkowski (R-AK) that would provide an exemption from federal 
authority and allow the state of Alaska to assume all licensing and 
regulatory authority over hydroelectric projects under five megawatts.
        For more information contact the Hydropower Reform Coalition, 
1025 Vermont Ave. NW, Suite 720, Washington, DC 20005, (202) 347-7550 
or email Matt Sicchio at msicchio at amrivers_org 

ALP Bill Passes Senate:
        On Wednesday, the Senate passed legislation that would 
authorize construction of the Animas-La Plata water storage and 
distribution system near Durango, Colorado. The vote was 85-5. S. 
2508 authorizes a new version of the Animas-La Plata (ALP) water 
diversion project, a costly and destructive project that would divert 
water from the Animas River in Durango and pump it 500 feet uphill 
into a reservoir. 
Senator Russ Feingold offered an amendment to the bill that would 
ensure that, at a minimum, S. 2508 authorizes only the project that 
its proponents say the bill does: a smaller version of ALP that must 
comply with federal environmental and taxpayer protection laws. The 
Feingold amendment was tabled on a 56-34 vote.
For more information about the ALP project, visit 
http://www.rmc.sierraclub.org/alp/ or email Dylan Norton at 
norton at rmc_sierraclub.org


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Help save the Missouri River! Visit http://www.savethemissouri.org 

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