Environmental Groups Urge Republican Leadership Not to Hold Everglades Hostage to Destructive Pork Projects

(10/25/2000) - Environmental groups today urged the Republican leadership of the Senate and the House of Representatives not to hold hold passage of the Everglades restoration plan hostage to agreement to pass a costly and environmentally destructive water projects bill. The groups included American Rivers, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, Environmental Defense, Friends of the Earth, National Wildlife Federatoin, and the Sierra Club. Their call comes in response to reports from Congressional sources that Senate leadership has told Senator Bob Smith of New Hampshire that it will not allow his Everglades restoration bill to move unless he also agrees to a broader water projects bill whose abuses he is resisting.

Last Friday, the House of Representatives passed a $6 billion Water Resrouces Development Act that contains scores of new dredging and flood control projects that have never been subject to environmental and economic review. Despite broad press reports this year of abuses by the Army Corps of Engineers in the planning of these projects, the bill failed to include significant reforms and instead included new subsidies for excessive port dredging and risky beachfront development. Senators Smith and Max Baucus, Chairman and ranking minority member of the Senate Environment Committee, have refused to accept these abuses in negotations with House members to try to fashion a compromise bill.

The House and Senate water projects bills include the bipartisan Everglades Restoration Act. But Congressman Bill Young, Chairman of the Appropriations Committee in the House, has previously stated that he will move the Everglades bill separately if there is no agreement on a broader water projects bill. The new pressure is an effort to force Senator Smith, who has championed the Everglades bill, to agree to an expensive, and environmentally destructive broader projects bill that violates established procedure for approving new projects only after they have been subject to full reviews.

Defenders of Wildlife is a leading nonprofit conservation organization recognized as one of the nation’s most progressive advocates for wolf recovery in the United States. With more than 400,000 members and supporters, Defenders of Wildlife is an effective leader on endangered species issues.



Cat Lazaroff, (202) 772-3270