THE DAILY FED
Endangered Species Exemptions
Rep. Henry Bonilla, R-Texas, Tuesday offered an amendment to the FY97 Defense appropriations conference report that would allow the president to exempt Defense Department activities from the Endangered Species Act, sources said yesterday.
The amendment would replace existing procedures which allow the Defense secretary, in consultation with the Interior secretary, to exempt DOD activities from the ESA with the president's approval. An aide to Rep. Norman Dicks, D-Wash., said Defense conferees had yet to vote on the amendment, but Dicks is strongly opposed.
The Clinton administration opposes the waiver, saying they have all the authority needed for national security under existing ESA provisions, the aide said, contending the amendment amounts to "chipping away" at the ESA.
Meanwhile, sources said the draft conference report distributed today on illegal immigration reform retains an ESA exemption in House- passed legislation for border barriers and road-building, and adds an exemption from the National Environmental Policy Act -- which requires federal agencies to conduct environmental impact analysis for any activity that may harm the environment.