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July 26, 1999
This Statement of Administration Policy provides the Administration's views on the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill, FY 2000, as reported by the House Committee. As the House develops its version of the bill, your consideration of the Administration's views would be appreciated.
The allocation of discretionary resources available to the House under the Congressional Budget Resolution is simply inadequate to make the necessary investments that our citizens need and expect. The President's FY 2000 Budget proposes levels of discretionary spending that meet such needs while conforming to the Bipartisan Budget Agreement by making savings proposals in mandatory and other programs available to help finance this spending. Congress has approved and the President has signed into law nearly $29 billion of such offsets in appropriations legislation since 1995. The Administration urges the Congress to consider such proposals as the FY 2000 appropriations process moves forward.
The Administration appreciates efforts by the Committee to accommodate certain of the President's priorities within its 302(b) allocation. However, the Committee bill is over $1.3 billion below the program level requested by the President and includes significant reductions in a number of high priority programs. In addition, the Committee has included anti-environmental riders concerning wetlands. These provisions have never been subject to appropriate public review and debate before the authorizing committees with jurisdiction over the Clean Water Act. As discussed below, these riders undermine the President's initiative to strengthen protection of wetlands and reduce risks of flood to our communities. The Administration would strongly support efforts to strike the riders. Therefore, the Administration strongly opposes the bill in its current form.
Objectionable Wetlands Riders
The Administration strongly objects to a provision that would short-circuit the review process for wetlands permits by making the review of initial jurisdictional determinations appealable to the Federal courts prior to a final permit decision. Although the Administration supports the creation of an administrative review process for these initial determinations, the bill would generate unnecessary and premature litigation, set back efforts to ensure a fair and amicable resolution of potential disputes, involve the Federal courts prior to the availability of a full administrative record, and undermine the ability of citizens and communities to participate on an equal footing in the permit process.
In addition, the bill threatens excessive wetlands losses by delaying the termination and replacement of Nationwide Permit 26. The bill would require an unnecessary study of the workload and cost effects of the proposed replacements for the current Nationwide Permit 26 and would substantially delay promulgation and implementation of the replacements until such a study is completed. Implementation of the new nationwide permits is a high priority for the Administration because these permits will put into effect the special protections for flood plains, impaired waters, and pristine waters announced by President Clinton on October 7, 1998. These changes are essential to meeting the goals Congress established in the Clean Water Act for restoring water quality and reducing the loss of the Nation's wetlands. Delays in the implementation of the replacement permits would place the regulatory program at substantial risk of litigation and would result in increased flooding, degradation of water quality, and the loss of fish and wildlife habitat. The workload increases that result from improving the nationwide permit program will be manageable.
Department of Energy
The Committee mark includes detrimental reductions to a number of programs in the Department of Energy (DOE). Specific cuts include:
We are concerned about the funding delay conditioned on enacting legislation to restructure the Department's national security programs. This provision would create administrative difficulties that could lead to program delays and impose an artificial deadline that could complicate resolution of the complex issues associated with restructuring these programs.
The Administration is also concerned about provisions in the bill that limit the Power Marketing Administrations' ability to do work for other utilities or Federal or State agencies. These provisions could prohibit the PMAs from carrying out interconnection mandates of FERC's open access Order Numbers 888 and 889 and limit their ability to ensure that interconnections requested by these entities meet Federal design standards and safety requirements.
The discretionary allocation available to the House is clearly inadequate to fund many priority programs within the Department of Energy. To meet this target, the Committee has chosen to use several unrealistic, across-the-board reductions, including:
Army Corps of Engineers
While the Administration is pleased that the Committee has provided the full $117 million requested for the Regulatory Program, we strongly object to several provisions in the bill.
The Administration is concerned about the Committee's $283 million increase to the President's request for the Army Corps of Engineers. Despite this unrequested increase in funding, cuts in certain critical construction projects have been made that would result in significant delays. Of particular concern are reductions to the request for the Columbia River Fish Mitigation project, the Everglades restoration (FL), the Kill Van Kull and Newark Bay Channel (NY, NJ) project, and elimination of funding for Devils Lake (ND). Funds to restore these projects to the requested levels would be available from funding in the bill for unrequested new construction starts and other add-ons. In addition, the Administration opposes the Committee's prohibitions (contained in the House Committee Report) against studying drawdown of the John Day and McNary dams. These prohibitions could hamper the objective analysis necessary to formulate Columbia and Snake River salmon recovery plans.
The Administration appreciates efforts by the Committee to derive funding for commercial harbor maintenance from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (if funds are to be provided under the current authorization). We urge Congress to enact the Administration's Harbor Services Fund proposal, which would provide a stable source of funding for port and harbor activities and free up funds for priority projects and programs.
Bureau of Reclamation
The Administration appreciates the Committee mark, which provides full funding for the Central Valley Project Restoration Fund and substantial funding for the California Bay-Delta Restoration program. This funding is important to Federal and State efforts to restore the Bay-Delta ecosystem and to efforts to mitigate impacts of the Central Valley Project. However, we are disappointed that the Committee has not approved the Administration's proposal to convert the Restoration program from discretionary to permanent funding to improve its operating efficiency and effectiveness.
The Administration is also concerned with the $48 million reduction to the Water and Related Resources program. This reduction would significantly affect the Bureau of Reclamation's ability to operate its water supply projects throughout the West while complying with relevant Federal laws. In particular, we are concerned about elimination of funding for Central Valley Project additions, replacements, and extraordinary maintenance, as well as reductions to the Lower Colorado River Operations Program. The eight-percent funding reduction to the Bureau's Policy and Administration activities would hinder its ability to administer important Reclamation-wide activities, such as implementation of the Government Performance and Results Act. We urge the House to restore these funds.
Tennessee Valley Authority
The Administration urges the House to provide the $7 million requested for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to manage the Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area (LBL). Under provisions in P.L. 105-277, the FY 1999 Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, management of LBL would transfer from TVA to the Forest Service if there is less than $6 million of TVA appropriations for the LBL. The Administration strongly opposes the needless, costly, and disruptive transfer of these activities.
Appalachian Regional Commission
The Administration believes that the $66.4 million request is the appropriate funding level to meet the needs of the Appalachian Region Commission and urges the House to restore full funding.