BATTLE LINES ON THE ENVIRONMENT
President Reagan waited until after the off-year election to veto legislation that would have strengthened the Clean Water Act. The bill had passed the Senate 96-0 and the House 408-0, and had been endorsed by the Environmental Protection Agency administrator. But last Thursday, the President said no, the measure was too expensive.
Specifically Reagan objected to an $18 billion allocation for sewage-treatment facilities, triple the amount he wanted to spend. The bill earmarked $9.6 billion for treatment-facility grants through 1994 and would have established a revolving fund to aid sewage projects after that. The President wanted federal grants ended in three years. Down the tube with the sewage funds went other provisions of the bill: funding to combat runoff pollution from farms, streets and mines; tighter restrictons on industrial toxics that are transported through sewer lines; increased penalties for polluters. "Unfortunately this bill so far exceeds acceptable levels of intended budgetary commitments that I must withhold my approval," said Reagan.
The environment has long been a bipartisan issue, and the Congressional votes on the Clean Water Act extension were in keeping with this tradition. In vetoing the bill, Reagan, who has dragged his feet on acid rain for six years and has underfunded the EPA, seemed all too willing to draw battle lines. Democratic Senator Daniel Moynihan of New York, who, with the Democrats now taking control of the Senate, will head the Senate Environment Subcommittee on Water Resources, said after the veto, "The President could have avoided a confrontation with the new Congress. Now he has one." Republican Senator Robert Stafford of Vermont, the current chairman of the environment committee, said, "The President was obviously acting on very bad advice. If he was dissatisfied with the cost, then he should wait to see what the Democratic Congress comes up with next year."
The Clean Water Act extension will surely be reintroduced early in the 100th Congress, and with Democrats likely to be less reluctant than Republicans to override Reagan vetoes, the bill may yet be enacted. But it's unfortunate that partisan politics has been introduced into the environmental debate.
DON'T TRY ANY TRICK PLAYS
The sports teams at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City have a suitable nickname—the Bloodhounds.
Larry Ruhf, a 39-year-old psychologist from Belchertown. Mass., recently set a world record by throwing a boomerang that remained aloft for 2 minutes, 31.02 seconds. Ruhf, the 1985 national boomerang champion, did this in a sanctioned tournament in Catskill, N.Y. As for the old official record—1:02.0—"I destroyed it," says Ruhf. "It was almost a miracle. It was almost a perfect boomerang happening. It was magical. It was almost perfect in terms of wind conditions. My brother said it was preordained."
While it's a neat enough trick to keep a boomerang in the air for two-plus minutes, it's an even neater trick to then catch that boomerang, which one must also do to set the maximum time aloft record. When Ruhf gave his boomerang the historic heave, he immediately took off after it. He ran across a field, scooted across an intersection, sprinted between the trestles of a railroad track and finally arrived in a side street nearly a quarter mile from where he had started. "It hovered in front of my eyes for five seconds," he says, "then dropped into my hand like a feather." Almost a miracle? He's being conservative.
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