1997 Scorecard Vote
Controversial since it was first authorized in 1968, the Bureau of Reclamation's Animas-La Plata project is one of the worst "boondoggle" western water projects ever proposed. It will cause substantial damage to fish, wildlife, and water resources in Colorado and New Mexico at huge taxpayer cost. The project will pump as much as half of the flow of the Animas River in southwestern Colorado to irrigate marginal agriculture lands at high altitude. The water will be pumped I,000 feet uphill, consuming enough electricity to run a city of 60,000. In addition, as originally proposed, the project includes construction of two major water reservoirs, seven pumping plants, and 200 miles of canals and pipes -- all at a cost to federal taxpayers of approximately $503 million. This massive project will destroy important habitat for elk and other big game, threaten two species of endangered fish, critically deplete waterflows in the Animas and San Juan Rivers, which support a thriving multi-million-dollar rafting industry, divert water from the La Plata River, and cause continuous water quality violations downstream in New Mexico. After years of debate and several successful lawsuits challenging the project, changes to the project are being discussed, but an alternative project has not been officially adopted.
During consideration of H.R. 2203, the Fiscal Year 1998 Energy and Water Development appropriations (budget) bill, Reps. Tom Petri (R-WI) and Peter DeFazio (D-OR) offered an amendment to prohibit the use of funds to buy land for the project or begin construction. Rep. Vic Fazio (D-CA) offered a complicated substitute amendment that limited funding to only projects that met certain criteria, and since only the original project could meet those criteria, the amendment had the effect of allowing funds to be expended on the project.
On July 25, 1997, the House adopted the Fazio substitute amendment, which defeated the Petri-DeFazio amendment, 223 - 201. NO is the pro.-environment vote. (See Senate vote 5).