Summary: H.R.450 — 102nd Congress (1991-1992)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Passed House amended (09/15/1992)

Amends Federal law regarding stock-raising homesteads to require a written notice to the surface owner before a person may enter lands for exploration purposes or to locate a mining claim. Provides for an authorized exploration period during which exploring and locating a mining claim may be conducted with negligible surface disruption but no road construction, use of explosives, mechanical earth moving equipment, or hazardous materials. Limits the total acreage that may be covered at any time by notices of intention to locate a claim.

Prohibits any mineral exploration or development activities without the surface owner's consent unless the Secretary of the Interior (the Secretary) has authorized them according to prescribed guidelines which include posting a surety bond to insure: (1) completion of surface reclamation; (2) compensation to the surface owner for permanent damages to crops and tangible improvements; and (3) compensation for permanent loss of income by the surface owner due to impaired land use.

Prohibits the Secretary from authorizing any mineral activities unless a plan of operations has been submitted meeting specified criteria, including: (1) minimization of damages to crops and tangible improvements of the surface owner, and of disruption to grazing or other land use by the surface owner; and (2) payment of a fee to the surface owner, equivalent to the loss of income to the ranch operation. Directs the Secretary to submit such plan of operations for the surface owner's comments and modifications before determining whether the plan complies with this Act.

Requires reclamation of land to return it, as contemporaneously as practicable with the conduct of mineral activities, to a condition capable of supporting the uses which it was capable of supporting before surface disturbance. Requires the Secretary to establish reclamation standards for topsoil, stabilization, erosion, hydrologic balance, pit backfilling/grading, revegetation, excess spoil and waste, sealing, and structures.

Requires the Secretary to make at least one complete inspection per calendar quarter to ensure that mineral activities comply with the approved plan of operations. Authorizes any surface owner to request an inspection if such owner has reason to believe that he may be adversely affected due to any violation of an approved plan of operations.

Requires the Secretary to order the cessation of mineral activities under a plan of operations if the operator violates the surface management requirements in a way which can reasonably be expected to cause imminent danger to: (1) the health or safety of the surface owner; or (2) land, air or water resources. Provides for enforcement through a civil action, by the Attorney General for injunctive relief, or by the surface owner for treble damages. Establishes civil penalties for violations of an approved plan of operations.

Authorizes the Secretary to convey federally owned interests (including mineral interests) in lands subject to this Act to the surface owner without making certain findings required by the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976. Requires the Secretary to simplify the procedure for surface owners who apply to obtain title to Federal interests in lands subject to the Stock Raising Homestead Act. Bars the Secretary from conveying such interests to any person other than the surface owner without the surface owner's consent.

Authorizes the Secretary to establish user fees to defray Federal expenses incurred in administering this Act.

Requires the Secretary of the Interior to report annually to the Congress on the control by foreign firms of the acreage and facilities on lands covered by the 1916 Stock Raising Homestead Act.