Summary: S.546 — 108th Congress (2003-2004)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Passed Senate amended (07/17/2003)

Paleontological Resources Preservation Act - (Sec. 3) Directs the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture (the Secretaries) to: (1) manage and protect paleontological resources on Federal land using scientific principles and expertise; and (2) develop plans for inventorying, monitoring, and deriving the scientific and educational use of such resources.

(Sec. 4) Directs the Secretaries to establish a program to increase public awareness about the significance of paleontological resources.

(Sec. 5) Prohibits a person from collecting a paleontological resource from Federal land without a permit issued under this Act by one of the Secretaries. Authorizes the Secretaries to allow casual collecting of common invertebrate and plant paleontological resources for scientific, educational, and recreational uses, without a permit, on certain Federal lands where not inconsistent with laws governing management of such lands and this Act. Recognizes as valid permits issued before enactment of this Act.

Sets forth criteria by which the Secretaries may issue permits for paleontological resources. Requires that any paleontological resource and associated records collected under a permit be deposited in an approved repository.

Allows the Secretaries to modify, suspend, or revoke a permit under specified circumstances, including if there is a violation of a term or a condition of a permit.

Declares that a permit shall be revoked if any person working under the authority of the permit is convicted of a criminal offense under this Act or assessed a civil penalty under this Act.

(Sec. 6) States that the Secretaries may enter into agreements with non-Federal repositories regarding the curation of paleontological resources, data, and records.

(Sec. 7) Prohibits: (1) excavating, removing, or altering a paleontological resource located on Federal lands, except in compliance with this Act; (2) exchanging or receiving such a resource, if the person knew or should have known such resource to have been illegally removed from Federal lands; (3) selling or purchasing a paleontological resource, if the person knew or should have known such resource to have been illegally removed from Federal lands; or (4) making or submitting false records, accounts, or identification of any paleontological resource excavated or removed from Federal lands. Imposes criminal penalties for violating this Act.

(Sec. 8) Sets forth requirements for the assessment of civil penalties by the Secretaries for violations of any prohibitions contained in regulations or permits issued under this Act. Requires any recovered amounts to be available for use: (1) to protect or restore the paleontological resources and sites which were the subject of the action, or to acquire sites with equivalent resources and to protect, monitor, and study the resources and sites; (2) to provide educational materials to the public about paleontological resources and sites; and (3) as a reward.

(Sec. 9) Allows the Secretaries to pay from penalties collected under this Act a reward to any person who furnishes information leading to the finding of a civil violation, or the conviction of criminal violation, with respect to which the penalty was paid. Provides for the civil or, as appropriate, the criminal forfeiture of all paleontological resources with respect to which a civil or criminal violation occurred, and of all vehicles and equipment that were used in connection with the violation. Allows the Secretary to transfer administration of seized paleontological resources to educational institutions for scientific or educational purposes.

(Sec. 10) Requires that information on the nature and specific location of a paleontological resource that requires a permit under this Act or other Federal law be withheld from the public, including under the Freedom of Information Act, except under specified conditions.

(Sec. 11) Directs the Secretaries to issue such regulations as are appropriate to carry out this Act, while providing opportunities for public notice and comment.

(Sec. 12) Declares that nothing in this Act shall be construed to do certain things, including to: (1) modify any activity under the general mining laws, the mineral or geothermal leasing laws, laws providing for minerals materials disposal, or laws providing for the management or regulation of the activities authorized by the aforementioned laws; (2) modify any activity under existing laws and authorities relating to reclamation and multiple uses of Federal lands; or (3) alter or diminish the authority of a Federal agency under any other law to provide protection for paleontological resources on Federal lands in addition to the protection provided under this Act.

(Sec. 13) Authorizes appropriations.