The full House Interior Committee will meet Wednesday to vote on a bobtailed Central Utah Water Project bill, Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, said Friday.
The measure would be a stopgap, one-year increase in the cost ceiling by $130 million, enough to keep the project on schedule through Sept. 30, 1989.The funding would be conventional, provided through direct appropriation from the Treasury.
Passage of the bill would allow the Reagan administration to prepare a budget for the next Congress to consider that would keep CUP going at the present rate.
The one-year bill would not end the controversy over financing of the project, but it would give the Utah congressional delegation breathing room to work out a compromise next session.
An aide to Owens said the money would allow the Bureau of Reclamation to start work on the Loafer Mountain Tunnel and the Wasatch Aqueduct, two features of the controversial irrigation portion of the Bonneville Unit.
Portions of the authorization would go to pay for fish and wildlife projects within CUP. Though the amounts would not be spelled out in the bill, they would be described in the committee's report, Owens indicated.
Owens said that public power officials had agreed to the stopgap plan and that he expected the votes to be there in the committee. Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, backed the idea of a one-year boost last month. He will have to pilot the bill through the Senate in September.
Meanwhile, public power agencies are upset that some Utah congressmen and their staff have cast them as the villain in efforts to reach a CUP funding compromise.
"Public power is as committed to completion of the CUP as the Utah congressional delegation," said former Utah Gov. Scott M. Matheson, who is acting as attorney to the Intermountain Consumer Power Association, which represents power agencies.
Alene E. Bentley, spokeswoman for the same group, said, "We are not being obstructionists. Our feet are being held to the fire on this, and we want things worked out."
Matheson added that water and power groups have held three meetings in the past two weeks to work out differences. "I am encouraged buy the progress being made, and I am optimistic a consensus can be reached."