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Clinton Urges Conservation Bill OK

September 21, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Clinton turned up the heat Thursday on the Senate in urging approval of a landmark conservation bill stalled by a minority of vocal critics.

Flanked by environmental leaders from groups including Defenders of Wildlife and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Clinton said the country could no longer take its open spaces and wildlife for granted.

``We have a unique and profoundly important effort to give people at the grassroots level in America a permanent source of funding to protect our natural resources,″ Clinton said.

``With more and more people visiting our national parks and forests, we also have to do more to protect and preserve these treasures.″

The bill would provide $3 billion a year for 15 years for buying land, restoring coastlines and protecting wildlife. The money would come from oil and gas leases, primarily in the Gulf of Mexico and off Alaska.

The House overwhelmingly approved a version of the bill. But the bill remains controversial because budgeters oppose locking in spending for 15 years and some Republicans oppose the government buying more land in the West.

Clinton’s statement came two days after 63 senators sent a letter to Senate leaders urging a vote. That majority ensured supporters could prevent a filibuster.

But opponents, including Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M. chairman of the Budget Committee, say they will still try to kill the bill.

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., who supports the bill, has said negotiations are continuing to try and approve the measure.

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The bill is H.R. 701.

On the Net: The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee: http://www.senate.gov/(tilde)energy

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