A coalition of 20 health and enviro groups is calling on President Clinton to refuse to sign a budget bill with riders that would, among other things, block the U.S. EPA from lowering the level of arsenic allowed in drinking water. Clinton has said he would veto funding bills with anti-environmental riders, but activists fear he may let some riders slip by on the bill to fund the EPA and other agencies, which the Senate is expected to take up today. “The White House reportedly has accepted these riders as the price of wrapping this up and getting back some of the money that could have been cut from EPA,” said Frank O’Donnell of the Clean Air Trust. Other riders on the bill would weaken or slow cleanups of contaminated rivers and lakes and limit the EPA’s ability to protect the public from pesticides. Meanwhile, Clinton yesterday signed an Interior Department spending bill that contains a measure to more than double land conservation funding over the next six years, to $12 billion. Still, some enviros and lawmakers are disappointed that the measure replaced a more sweeping bill, the Conservation and Reinvestment Act, which would set conservation funding at $45 billion over 15 years.

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