Public Papers

Statement on Signing the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act, 1992


I have today signed into law H.R. 2427, the ``Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act, 1992.'' This Act provides funds for the water resources development activities of the Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Reclamation. In addition, the Act provides funding for the Department of Energy. Various related independent agencies such as the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the Tennessee Valley Authority are also funded by this Act.

The funding in this Act will help make important investments in research and development for general science and energy supply, environmental restoration and waste disposal, and water resources development. I am concerned, however, about the longer-term distribution of funds between scientific research and development of national significance and water projects of more local benefit. Funding for water projects is increased above the Administration's request by 2 million, while the Administration's request for General Science and Research Activities is reduced by million.

Sections 304 and 506 of the Act raise constitutional concerns. Section 304 would direct the Secretary of Energy, ``to the fullest extent possible,'' to ensure that 10 percent of the funds for the Superconducting Super Collider go to various institutions that are defined by their racial composition. To the extent that important governmental objectives are not clearly identified as the basis for such designations, they may raise constitutional concerns. I therefore direct the Secretary, as part of his obligation to implement section 304 ``to the fullest extent possible,'' to administer the section in a constitutional manner.

Section 506 of the Act provides that none of the funds appropriated by this or any other legislation may be used to conduct studies concerning ``the possibility of changing from the currently required `at cost' to a `market rate' or any other noncost-based method for the pricing of hydroelectric power'' by Federal power authorities. Article II, section 3, of the Constitution grants the President authority to recommend to the Congress any legislative measures considered ``necessary and expedient.'' Accordingly, in keeping with the well-settled obligation to construe ambiguous statutory provisions to avoid constitutional questions, I will interpret section 506 so as not to infringe on the Executive's authority to conduct studies that might assist in the evaluation and preparation of such measures.

George Bush

The White House,

August 17, 1991.

Note: H.R. 2427, approved August 17, was assigned Public Law No. 102 - 104.