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HOUSE GRANTS ALL THE FUNDS CUP WANTED FOR NEXT YEAR

SHARE HOUSE GRANTS ALL THE FUNDS CUP WANTED FOR NEXT YEAR

The House approved on Tuesday all the funding the Central Utah Project had requested for next year.

That came as the House voted 393-29 to pass an annual water and energy appropriations bill, which included $40.2 million for CUP projects to bring water from eastern Utah to the Wasatch Front. The Senate must still pass its own version of the bill.For the first time in many years, the CUP request was non-controversial in the House. That's because two years ago Congress passed a bill to raise its federal debt ceiling to allow completion of the project and allow several environmental mitigation projects.

The CUP had been bumping into its debt limit - roughly like having charged the maximum on its federal credit card - which had slowed construction somewhat for years and threatened to halt it altogether.

Legislation to raise the debt limit also now allows local agencies that oversee the CUP to make their budget requests directly to the Clinton administration without going through the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation first. That bureau had tended to cut down requests in the past.

The only problem that CUP funding has faced this year was that the Energy Department originally failed to budget its mandated-by-law $5 million annual contribution to a CUP conservation account, which helps fund environmental and wildlife projects.

When members of the Utah delegation complained about that, the Energy Department said it was an oversight and asked the House to fund its contribution by taking the money from other areas of its budget.

Upon passage on Wednesday, Rep. Karen Shepherd, D-Utah, said, "CUP will benefit Utah both economically and environmentally. Restored habitats and healthier wildlife are just two of the important improvements we will achieve as a result of CUP."