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Clinton signs bills to protect sea life
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- President Clinton signed two bills on Monday to protect the U.S. coastline and marine sanctuaries, the latest in a series of conservation moves praised by environmental groups.
Clinton said the bills, re-authorizing the National Marine Sanctuaries Act for five years and strengthening the Coastal Barrier Resources Act, would protect sensitive sea life, including humpback whales and coral, as well as shield the mainland from severe storms and flooding.
The signings were announced aboard Air Force One, before Clinton's arrival in Hawaii. The president was en route to Brunei to participate in a Nov. 15-16 Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.
The marine sanctuaries law protects 13 sites around the country, including Florida's fragile coral reefs, lush kelp forests off Monterey Bay and the Channel Islands, as well as nursing grounds for Hawaii's humpback whales.
Clinton said the act would help to ensure a "healthy ocean environment for the next generation of swimmers and surfers, fishermen and explorers, teachers and students."
The coastal barriers measure prohibits the federal government from providing subsidies for development of barriers along the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, Great Lakes, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
"Coastal barriers provide a multitude of services that are foundations of a strong economy and healthy environment," Clinton said in a statement.
Clinton said fisheries, as well as endangered species, benefit from coastal barriers. They also protect the mainland from coastal storms, bearing the full force of storm surge and hurricane-level winds.
The coastal barriers act, Clinton added, "discourages development, keeping lives out of harm's way, protecting fish and wildlife habitat, and reducing wasteful expenditures of taxpayer dollars."
Last week, Clinton signed proclamations protecting nearly 1 million acres of sensitive canyons, craters and lava fields in Arizona and Idaho.
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Clinton unveils initiative to protect U.S. oceans and coasts
National Marine Sanctuaries Act
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