July 14, 1998
The Administration appreciates Congress' commitment to address the serious
problems facing the Salton Sea. Although the Administration endorses the
concept of restoring the Salton Sea, it strongly opposes H.R. 3267, as
amended in the nature of a substitute. The Administration has worked and
will continue to work with the Congress to develop legislation that we can
support. However, the amended bill contains certain provisions that would
compromise the Government's ability to develop a cost-effective,
environmentally sensitive restoration for the Salton Sea ecosystem. Some
of the bill's provisions also raise significant constitutional issues as
The Salton Sea ecosystem is under severe stress. Although it currently functions as the permanent home for a number of wildlife and fish species and as an important stop for thousands of migratory birds, its increasing salinity, combined with other contaminants in the ecosystem, are harming much of this wildlife. In recent years, there have been a significant number of serious bird and fish kills at the Sea. In addition, the Sea's value as a recreational resource has declined.
As a result of the Administration's concern about the situation, the Secretary of the Interior has initiated an open review process under the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to identify and evaluate the potential options for the Salton Sea on an expedited schedule.
The Secretary has also been working with leaders from the State of California, the Salton Sea Authority, the Torrez-Martinez Tribe, and the local area to coordinate and focus research and funding related to the Sea's restoration. As part of these intergovernmental efforts, a Science Subcommittee has been formed to address scientific issues related to the Sea.
H.R. 3267 is inconsistent, as described below, with the principles that the Administration believes should underlie the Salton Sea restoration effort.
Based on these concerns, the Administration strongly opposes H.R. 3267, as amended in the nature of a substitute.
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