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Public Papers - 1990 - November

Statement on Signing the Bill Modifying the Boundaries of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge

1990-11-21

Today I am signing H.R. 5264, an Act ``To authorize modification of the boundaries of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge.'' Under this Act, the United States will acquire, through a land exchange with an Alaska Native Corporation, an environmentally significant tract of wetlands for the Refuge. These wetlands are an important wintering habitat for several species of ducks, and I agree that a land exchange of the kind contemplated in H.R. 5264 offers an appropriate method for carrying out this effort at environmental preservation.

Unfortunately, H.R. 5264 contains important constitutional defects. Under the Act, the amount of Federal land to be exchanged for the wetlands in question must be determined by ``independent'' appraisers, who would not be subject to supervision by the President. This is contrary to Article II of the Constitution. In addition, one or more of the appraisers would be chosen in a manner inconsistent with the Appointments Clause of the Constitution, Art. II, sec. 2, cl. 2.

I have no doubt that these constitutional defects were the result of inadvertence. Because the Act does not provide a mechanism for carrying out the land exchange in a manner consistent with the Constitution, however, it cannot be fully implemented until its constitutional deficiencies are rectified. Accordingly, the appraiser appointed by the Secretary of the Interior pursuant to section 3(a) of the Act will be instructed by the Secretary not to complete his appraisal until the Secretary is informed by the Department of Justice that adequate technical corrections legislation has been enacted.

George Bush

The White House,

November 21, 1990.

Note: H.R. 5264, approved November 21, was assigned Public Law No. 101 - 622.

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