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106th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 2d Session                                                    106-1017

======================================================================



 
                  AMERICA'S WILDERNESS PROTECTION ACT

                                _______
                                

October 30, 2000.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

  Mr. Young of Alaska, from the Committee on Resources, submitted the 
                               following

                              R E P O R T

                             together with

                            DISSENTING VIEWS

                        [To accompany H.R. 1500]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Resources, to whom was referred the bill 
(H.R. 1500) to accelerate the Wilderness designation process by 
establishing a timetable for the completion of wilderness 
studies on Federal Lands, having considered the same, report 
favorably thereon without amendment and recommend that the bill 
do pass.

                          PURPOSE OF THE BILL

    The purpose of H.R. 1500 is to accelerate the wilderness 
designation process by establishing as timetable for the 
completion of wilderness studies on federal lands.

                  BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR LEGISLATION

    The Wilderness Act of 1964 and the Federal Land Policy and 
Management Act of 1976 authorize ``wilderness study areas'' and 
direct the Secretary of the Interior to study those areas for 
potential designation as wilderness. Once a wilderness study 
area is established by the Secretary, legislation is required 
to change the classification of the study area to either a 
wilderness or a non-wilderness area. Thus, absent Congressional 
action, they would be studied in perpetuity--even after the 
actual studies were long completed. The perpetual study of an 
area for wilderness suitability is clearly not in the public 
interest.
    Of the 264 million acres administered by the Bureau of Land 
Management, the agency responsible for managing wilderness 
study areas, 18 million acres are included in more than 600 
wilderness study areas.
    Because wilderness study areas are managed almost as if 
they were already wilderness, there is no incentive to make the 
sometimes politically difficult decisions to actually make them 
wilderness. Also, because the Department of the Interior's 
wilderness studies invariably decide that certain parts of 
wilderness study areas do not qualify for wilderness, fringe 
environmental groups also oppose any resolution to the issue, 
preferring perpetual wilderness study area status over actual 
wilderness designation.
    Areas that qualify deserve full wilderness protection. They 
should not be allowed to languish in ``study'' status 
indefinitely. We need to reach a conclusion on this issue by 
forcing Congress to make these difficult decisions or allow the 
land to return to a multiple use status.
    H.R. 1500, America's Wilderness Protection Act, would 
provide that existing wilderness study areas be released ten 
years from the date of enactment of H.R. 1500 and that any new 
wilderness study areas be released ten years from their 
creation.
    H.R. 1500 would help many States and counties by bringing 
the contentious wilderness debate to a conclusion.

                            COMMITTEE ACTION

    Congressman James V. Hansen introduced H.R. 1500 on April 
21, 1999. The bill was referred to the Committee on Resources 
and within the Committee to the Subcommittee on National Parks 
and Public Lands. On October 28, 1999, the Subcommittee held a 
hearing on the bill. On March 23, 2000, the Subcommittee met to 
consider the bill. Congressman Mark Udall offered an amendment 
to change the short title of the bill. The amendment failed on 
a voice vote. Congressman Mark Udall offered a second amendment 
to exempt areas from the bill under certain conditions; the 
amendment failed on voice vote. The bill was then ordered 
favorably reported to the Full Resources Committee by voice 
vote. On September 13, 2000, the Full Resources Committee met 
to consider the bill. Congressman Mark Udall offered an 
amendment to provide a new short title for the bill; it failed 
by voice vote. Congressman Mark Udall offered an amendment to 
exempt areas from the bill under certain conditions; this 
amendment also failed by voice vote. Congressman Mark Udall 
offered a third amendment exempt the State of Colorado from the 
bill. The amendment failed on a roll call vote of 12 to 23, as 
follows:


    No further amendments were offered and the bill was ordered 
favorably reported to the House of Representatives by voice 
vote.

            COMMITTEE OVERSIGHT FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

    Regarding clause 2(b)(1) of rule X and clause 3(c)(1) of 
rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the 
Committee on Resources' oversight findings and recommendations 
are reflected in the body of this report.

                   CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY STATEMENT

    Article I, section 8 and Article IV, section 3 of the 
Constitution of the United States grant Congress the authority 
to enact this bill.

                    COMPLIANCE WITH HOUSE RULE XIII

    1. Cost of Legislation. Clause 3(d)(2) of rule XIII of the 
Rules of the House of Representatives requires an estimate and 
a comparison by the Committee of the costs which would be 
incurred in carrying out this bill. However, clause 3(d)(3)(B) 
of that rule provides that this requirement does not apply when 
the Committee has included in its report a timely submitted 
cost estimate of the bill prepared by the Director of the 
Congressional Budget Office under section 402 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974.
    2. Congressional Budget Act. As required by clause 3(c)(2) 
of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives and 
section 308(a) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, this 
bill does not contain any new budget authority, credit 
authority, or an increase or decrease in tax expenditures. 
According to the Congressional Budget Office, enactment of this 
bill could affect direct spending (including offsetting 
receipts) beginning in 2011.
    3. Government Reform Oversight Findings. Under clause 
3(c)(4) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives, the Committee has received no report of 
oversight findings and recommendations from the Committee on 
Government Reform on this bill.
    4. Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate. Under clause 
3(c)(3) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives and section 403 of the Congressional Budget Act 
of 1974, the Committee has received the following cost estimate 
for this bill from the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                Washington, DC, September 20, 2000.
Hon. Don Young,
Chairman, Committee on Resources,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 1500, the 
America's Wilderness Protection Act.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Megan 
Carroll.
            Sincerely,
                                          Barry B. Anderson
                                    (For Dan L. Crippen, Director).
    Enclosure.

             H.R. 1500--America's Wilderness Protection Act

    H.R. 1500 would establish a 10-year deadline for completing 
wilderness studies on federal lands. CBO estimates that 
enacting this bill would have no significant impact on the 
federal budget over the next 10 years. H.R. 1500 could affect 
direct spending (including offsetting receipts), but pay-as-
you-go procedures would not apply because any such changes 
would not occur before 2011. H.R. 1500 contains no 
intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the 
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and would impose no costs on 
state, local, or tribal governments.
    The Wilderness Act and the Federal Land Policy and 
Management Act authorize wilderness study areas (WSAs) on 
federal lands and direct the Secretary of the Interior to study 
those areas for potential designation as wilderness. Once a WSA 
is established by the Secretary, legislation is required to 
change the classification of the study area to either a 
wilderness or non-wilderness area. Under H.R. 1500, 10 years 
after enactment, all current WSAs would be released from that 
status to non-wilderness uses. The bill also would require that 
any new WSAs established after H.R. 1500 could be studied for a 
maximum of 10 years before being released from that status.
    Of the 264 million acres of land administered by the Bureau 
of Land Management (BLM), the agency responsible for managing 
WSAs, 18 million acres are currently included in more than 600 
such areas. Based on information from BLM, CBO expects that 
many of those areas will remain WSAs 10 years from now. 
Releasing those lands from WSA status would open them to new 
income-generating activities, particularly new mineral leasing 
and development that otherwise would be prohibited under 
current law. Hence, we expect that H.R. 1500 could result in an 
increase in offsetting receipts from those activities, but we 
cannot estimate the amount of any such increase because we do 
not know which WSAs would be released under H.R. 1500 or the 
resource potential of those lands.
    According to BLM, public lands with the highest leasing 
potential generally lie outside of WSAs. Thus, we expect that 
any increase in offsetting receipts from mineral leasing and 
development under H.R. 1500 would be small relative to the 
amounts generated from such activities across all BLM lands, 
which we estimate will total about $1.5 billion in 2000. Under 
the bill, no additional offsetting receipts could occur before 
fiscal year 2011.
    The CBO staff contact is Megan Carroll. This estimate was 
approved by Peter H. Fontaine, Deputy Assistant Director for 
Budget Analysis.

                    COMPLIANCE WITH PUBLIC LAW 104-4

    This bill contains no unfunded mandates.

                PREEMPTION OF STATE, LOCAL OR TRIBAL LAW

    This bill is not intended to preempt any State, local or 
tribal law.

                        CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW

    If enacted, this bill would make no changes in existing 
law.

                            Dissenting Views

    H.R. 1500 is a seriously flawed initiative that deserves to 
be defeated. The Secretary of the Interior has stated that if 
this legislation was presented to the President, he would 
recommend a veto. I wholeheartedly concur.
    Despite overwhelming public support for wilderness, the 
majority has chosen to advance legislation to undercut the 
protection of wilderness quality public lands in the United 
States. H.R. 1500, the ``America's Wilderness Protection Act'' 
is in fact no such thing. This misnamed and misguided piece of 
legislation would virtually guarantee that future wilderness 
areas would not be designated. By providing for the release of 
all wilderness study areas within a ten-year period, the 
legislation would allow wilderness opponents, by blocking or 
stalling wilderness legislation, to open wilderness quality 
lands to development.
    Given the majority's track record on wilderness over the 
past six years and their historical animosity to wilderness 
designations in general, it is easy to see how this legislation 
would be used to undercut wilderness protection. We owe it to 
present and future generations to strongly resist the 
Republican majority's attempt to use legislation, such a H.R. 
1500, to diminish America's wilderness legacy.
                                                     George Miller.