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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
R E P O R T
[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
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
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
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
H.R. 1500 would help many States and counties by bringing
the contentious wilderness debate to a conclusion.
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
No further amendments were offered and the bill was ordered
favorably reported to the House of Representatives by voice
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
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
Barry B. Anderson
(For Dan L. Crippen, Director).
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
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
CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW
If enacted, this bill would make no changes in existing
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.