An attempt last year in the House to halt funding for the Animas-La Plata dam project in southern Colorado failed by a miserable 151-275. This year, a second try slipped by 221-200. What changed the 75 or so Representatives' minds? Election year, says Jeffrey Stier, spokesman for Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., who led the successful campaign to cut $10 million for initial construction of the controversial project. "Republicans are increasingly desperate to improve their environmental credentials," Stier says.
Many Eastern and Midwestern Republicans
were swayed by debate on July 24 when DeFazio claimed that the $710
million worth of pumps, canals and reservoirs meant porkbarrel
spending and environmental degradation. Project proponents
countered that construction was essential to satisfy a water treaty
with two Ute Indian tribes. But some Indians are celebrating the
project's setback. "This doesn't have to do with economic and
financial benefits for the tribes," says Southern Ute Councilman
"It's a feather in our cap, a sign
that someone in Washington is finally listening to our concerns
that we've been used on a water issue."
amendment may next go to the Senate where Sen. Ben Nighthorse
Campbell, R-Colo., vows to secure funding for the