Statement by the President: Griffith Project Prepayment and Conveyance Act (7/27/00)
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary

                                                              For Immediate
Release                            July 27, 2000

                        STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT

     Today I have signed into law S. 986, the "Griffith Project Prepayment
and Conveyance Act," a bill to direct the Secretary of the Interior to
convey the Griffith Project to the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA).

     This legislation is consistent with Administration policy of
transferring certain facilities to private water districts where it is more
efficient for the nonfederal entity to manage the project.  I am pleased
that the Congress addressed many Administration concerns with earlier
versions of this legisla-tion.  For example, the bill clarifies questions
regarding the lands to be transferred and eligibility for future benefits
for Bureau of Reclamation programs.

     I am disappointed that the bill directs rather than authorizes the
Secretary of the Interior to convey the facilities of the Project.  My
Administration believes that prior to transferring title, the Secretary
should conduct a meaningful National Environ-mental Policy Act analysis so
that the Depart-ment, the Congress, and the public can fully understand the
impacts of the proposed transfer, its alterna-tives, and potential
mitigation measures.  My Administration continues to oppose such mandatory
provisions in transfer bills.  However, because of the cooperative efforts
with the SNWA and the progress made to date in the environmental review,
the Department of the Interior indicates that it believes that the process
can be satisfactorily completed with regard to this Project.

     In signing S. 986, I state my interpretation that section 5(c) of the
bill, which provides that nothing in the Act shall transfer or affect
Federal ownership, rights, or interest in Lake Mead National Recreation
Area associated lands, nor affect the authorities of the National Park
Service to manage the Area, read together with section 3(b)(2), makes clear
that no interests in real property would transfer to the SNWA other than
the right-of-way that is reasonably necessary for the Authority to operate,
maintain, replace, and repair the Griffith
Project, as constituted on the date of enactment of this Act.  Further,
notwithstanding language in the bill that provides that the right-of-way
shall be "at no cost," the Federal Government is not prevented from seeking
reimbursement for expenditures associated with implementing this Act and
protecting the resources of Lake Mead National Recreation Area when
rights-of-way are established.

                                   WILLIAM J. CLINTON

    July 26, 2000.

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