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Calendar No. 770
106th Congress Report
2d Session 106-394
IVANPAH VALLEY AIRPORT PUBLIC LANDS TRANSFER ACT
August 25, 2000.--Ordered to be printed
Filed under authority of the order of the Senate July 26, 2000
Mr. Murkowski, from the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources,
submitted the following
R E P O R T
[To accompany H.R. 1695]
The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was
referred the Act (H.R. 1695) to provide for the conveyance of
certain Federal public lands in the Ivanpah Valley, Nevada, to
Clark County, Nevada, for the development of an airport
facility, and for other purposes, having considered the same
reports favorably thereon with amendments and recommends that
the Act, as amended, do pass.
The amendments are as follows:
1. On page 2, line 24, strike ``assessment'' and insert
``assessment, using the airspace management plan required by
2. On page 3, lines 15 through 22, amend paragraph (2) to
read as follows:
``(2) Deposit in Special Account.--(A) The Secretary shall
deposit the payments received under paragraph (1) into the
special account described in section 4(e)(1)(C) of the Southern
Nevada Public Land Management Act of 1998 (112 Stat. 2345).
Such funds may be expended only for the acquisition of private
inholdings in the Mojave National Preserve and for the
protection and management of the petroglyph resources in Clark
County, Nevada. The second sentence of section 4(f) of such Act
(112 Stat. 2346) shall not apply to interest earned on amounts
deposited under this paragraph.
``(B) The Secretary may not expend funds pursuant to this
(i) the provisions of Section 5 of this Act have been
(ii) a final Record of Decision pursuant to the
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C.
4321 et seq.) has been issued which permits development
of an airport at the Ivanpah site.''.
3. Strike page 3, line 23 and all that follows through page
4, line 2 and insert the following:
``(d) Reversion and Reentry.--If following completion of
compliance with section 5 of this Act and in accordance with
the findings made by the actions taken in compliance with such
section, the Federal Aviation Administration and the County
determine that an airport should not be constructed on the
4. On page 4, line 23, strike ``Secretary,'' and insert
``Secretary, prior to the conveyance of the land referred to in
5. On page 5, line 18, add the following sentence at the
end of section 5: ``Any actions conducted in accordance with
this section shall specifically address any impacts on the
purposes for which the Mojave National Preserve was created.''.
purpose of the measure
The purpose of H.R. 1695 is to provide for the sale of
certain public lands in the Ivanpah Valley, Nevada, to Clark
background and need
H.R. 1695 authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to
convey certain lands in the Ivanpah Valley to Clark County,
Nevada. The legislation provides for return of the land to the
Department of the Interior, should airport development prove to
The Las Vegas metropolitan area is the fastest growing
metropolitan area in the country, growing 4.7 percent, or
almost 60,000 in population, in 1998. McCarran airport
passenger traffic has grown by 64 percent in the last 10 years.
The Clark County Department of Aviation completed an extensive
review of options available for meeting the growing needs for
air traffic in southern Nevada. Because of restricted airspace
north of Las Vegas due to military uses, and existing full
precision instrumental landing requirements of McCarran
airport, the review concluded that the Ivanpah site is the only
option that can accommodate the growing air traffic needs of
the region. Authorization of this conveyance will allow Clark
County to proceed with NEPA analysis and the proposed
development of a new airport to serve southern Nevada. The
Federal Aviation Administration will undertake an airspace
study to develop an airspace management plan that avoids, to
the maximum extent possible, overflights of the nearby Mojave
National Preserve in California.
Clark County will pay fair market value for the land and
the airport will be publicly owned and operated. The revenues
collected by the Government for the sale will be available for
use by the BLM for acquiring inholdings in the Mojave National
Preserve and archaeological sites in Clark County.
H.R. 1695 was introduced by Representative Gibbons on May
5, 1999. On March 9, 2000, the bill passed the House of
Representatives by a vote of 420 to 1. The Senate companion
measure, S. 930, was introduced on April 29, 1999, by Senators
Reid and Bryan. The Subcommittee on Forest and Public Land
Management held a hearing on S. 930 on July 27, 1999. At the
business meeting on July 13, 2000, the Committee on Energy and
Natural Resources ordered H.R. 1695 favorably reported, with an
The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in
open business session on July 13, 2000, by a voice vote of a
quorum present, recommends that the Senate pass H.R. 1695, as
During the consideration of H.R. 1695, the Committee
adopted amendments to clarify therequirements of the airspace
management analysis, the timing of the purchase of the parcels in
relation to the NEPA analysis of the airport facility, and the uses of
the proceeds by the Department of the Interior.
Section 1 cites the short title as the ``Ivanpah Valley
Airport Public Lands Transfer Act.''
Section 2(a) directs the Secretary of the Interior to
convey lands to Clark County, Nevada, for the purpose of
developing an airport facility and related infrastructure.
Subsection (b)(1) requires the Secretary of the Interior to
convey the land only after Clarke County conducts an airspace
assessment to identify any potential adverse effects.
Paragraph (2) requires the Secretary of the Interior to
convey the land only after the Administrator of the Federal
Aviation Administration certifies that the assessment is
thorough and alternatives have been developed to address each
adverse effect identified in the assessment.
Paragraph (3) requires the Secretary of the Interior to
convey the land only after Clark County enters into an
agreement with the Secretary to retain ownership of Jean
Airport and to maintain and develop Jean Airport as a general
Subsection (c)(1) requires Clark County to pay fair market
value for each parcel conveyed.
Paragraph (2) requires the proceeds of the sale to be
deposited in the special account established under the Southern
Nevada Public Land Management Act of 1998, and can only be used
for the purchase of inholdings in the Mojave National Preserve,
and for the protection of petroglyphs in Clarke County.
Subsection (d)(1) requires the Secretary of the Interior to
refund all payments to Clark County if the NEPA analysis
required in section 5 determines an airport cannot be
constructed on the site.
Paragraph (2) requires that upon the return of the payments
to Clark County, that all right, title, and interests in the
conveyed lands shall revert to the United States, and the
Secretary of the Interior may reenter the lands.
Section (3) directs that the parcels purchased are
withdrawn from mineral entry.
Section (4) requires the Secretary of Transportation to
consult with the Secretary of the Interior to develop an
airspace plan that safely, and to the extent practicable,
restricts activity over the Mojave National Preserve.
Section (5) requires a NEPA analysis on the lands conveyed
to Clark County prior to construction of the airport facility.
Section (6) defines the terms used in the Act.
cost and budgetary considerations
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimate of the costs
of this measure follows:
Congressional Budget Office,
Washington, DC, July 20, 2000.
Hon. Frank H. Murkowski,
Chairman, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources,
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 1695, the Ivanpah
Valley Airport Public Lands Transfer Act.
If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contacts are Megan
Carroll (for federal costs) and Marjorie Miller (for the state
and local impact).
Barry B. Anderson
(For Dan L. Crippen, Director).
H.R. 1695--Ivanpah Valley Airport Public Lands Transfer Act
Summary. H.R. 1695 would direct the Secretary of the
Interior to convey to Clark County, Nevada, about 6,400 acres
of public land for the purpose of developing an airport
facility and related infrastructure. The county would pay fair
market value for the land. The legislation would authorize the
Secretary to spend the proceeds of the land sale. CBO estimates
that implementing H.R. 1695 would result in an increase in
offsetting receipts in 2001, but that those receipts would be
fully offset by a corresponding increase in direct spending
over fiscal years 2005 through 2007. Because H.R. 1695 would
affect direct spending (including offsetting receipts), pay-as-
you-go procedures would apply. Implementing the legislation
also could increase spending subject to appropriation, but CBO
estimates that any additional discretionary spending would be
less than $500,000 a year.
H.R. 1695 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA).
Clark County would probably incur some costs as a result of
this legislation's enactment, but these costs would be
Estimated cost to the Federal Government. The estimated
budgetary impact of H.R. 1695 is shown in the following table.
The legislation also could affect spending subject to
appropriation, but CBO estimates that any changes in
discretionary spending would be less than $500,000 a year. The
costs of this legislation fall within budget function 300
(natural resources and the environment).
By fiscal year, in millions of dollars
2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
CHANGES IN DIRECT SPENDING
Asset sale proceeds:
Estimated budget authority.. 0 -6 0 0 0
Estimated outlays........... 0 -6 0 0 0
Spending of proceeds:
Estimated budget authority.. 0 6 0 0 0
Estimated outlays........... 0 (\1\) 0 0 2
Estimated budget authority.. 0 0 0 0 0
Estimated outlays........... 0 -6 0 0 2
\1\ Less than $500,000.
Basis of estimate: For the purposes of this estimate, CBO
assumes that H.R. 1695 will be enacted by the end of fiscal
year 2000. Estimates of outlays are based on historical
spending patterns for similar activities, and the requirement
under this legislation that development of the airport be
approved before proceeds from the sale can be spent.
Direct spending (including offsetting receipts)
H.R. 1695 would direct the Secretary of the Interior to
convey about 6,400 acres of public land to Clark County,
Nevada, at fair market value. Certain conditions would have to
be met before the conveyance could occur. Based on information
from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Department of
Transportation, CBO estimates that those requirements would be
completed during fiscal year 2002 and that the land would be
sold in that year. Under current law, BLM has no plans to sell
the land, and the land does not generate any receipts for the
federal government. According to BLM, the proceeds from sale of
the land are highly uncertain since an appraisal has not been
conducted and there are virtually no other comparable land
sales in that area. Based on information from the local airport
authority and BLM, CBO estimates that sale proceeds would total
about $6 million in fiscal year 2002.
Current law provides that states receive 5 percent of the
net proceeds of sales of public lands within their limits.
Thus, we estimate that payments to the state of Nevada would
total about $300,000 in fiscal year 2002 as a result of
implementing H.R. 1695.
H.R. 1695 provides that proceeds from sale of the land
shall be deposited in a special account in the Treasury created
by section 4(e)(1)(C) of the Southern Nevada Public Land
Management Act (Public Law 105-263). We assume that such
deposits will be net of the payments to Nevada discussed above.
The net proceeds would be available to the Secretary of the
Interior, without further appropriation, to purchase
environmentally sensitive land in Nevada, reimburse agency
costs incurred in arranging the land disposal, and for certain
Under H.R. 1695, the proceeds from the sale could not be
spent until the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of
Transportation complete all actions required under the National
Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) and the development of
the airport has been approved. Based on information from BLM
and the Department of Transportation, CBO expects these
requirements would be met by the start of fiscal year 2005 and
that the Secretary would spend $2 million a year over the 2005-
2007 period for the purposes specified in the legislation.
Spending subject to appropriation
H.R. 1695 would make the land conveyance contingent on
Clark County conducting an airspace assessment to identify any
potential adverse effects on access to the Las Vegas Basin
resulting from the construction and operation of an airport on
the land to be conveyed. Further, the conveyance would be
contingent on the Federal Aviation Administration certifying
that the county's assessment is thorough and considers
alternatives to any adverse effects identified in the
assessment. H.R. 1695 would require the Secretary of the
Interior and the Secretary of Transportation to meet the
requirements of NEPA prior to constructing and operating the
airport. Finally, the legislation would direct the Secretary of
Transportation to develop an airspace management plan for the
Ivanpah Valley Airport that restricts arrivals and departures
over the Mojave Desert Preserve in California. Based on
information from the departments, we estimate that the total
cost to the federal government of implementing these provisions
would be less than $500,000 each year over the 2001-2005
period, assuming appropriation of the necessary amounts.
Pay-as-you-go considerations: The Balanced Budget and
Emergency Deficit Control Act sets up pay-as-you-go procedures
for legislation affecting direct spending or receipts. The net
changes in outlays that are subject to pay-as-you-go procedures
are shown in the following table. For the purposes of enforcing
pay-as-you-go procedures, only the effects in the current year,
the budget year, and the succeeding four years are counted.
Under the Balanced Budget Act, proceeds from nonroutine asset
sales (sales that are not authorized under current law) may be
counted for pay-as-you-go purposes only if the sale would
entail no financial cost to the government. Based on
information provided by BLM, CBO estimates that the sale of the
public land specified in H.R. 1695 would result in a net
savings to the government, and therefore, the proceeds would
count for pay-as-you-go purposes.
By fiscal year, in millions of dollars
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
Changes in outlays.............................................. 0 0 -6 0 0 2 2 2 0 0 0
Changes in receipts............................................. (\1\) (\1\) (\1\) (\1\) (\1\) (\1\) (\1\) (\1\) (\1\) (\1\) (\1\)
\1\ Not applicable.
Estimated impact on state, local, and tribal governments:
H.R. 1695 contains no intergovernmental mandates as defined in
UMRA. The conveyance authorized by this legislation would be
voluntary on the part of Clark County and any costs they would
incur to fulfill the conditions of the conveyance also would be
voluntary. This would include paying fair market value for the
land and conducting an airspace assessment. The county would
benefit from the opportunity to acquire this land, and the
state of Nevada would benefit because they would receive a
portion of the receipts from the sale.
Estimated impact on the private sector: The legislation
would impose no new private-sector mandates as defined in UMRA.
Previous CBO estimate: On November 4, 1999, CBO transmitted
a cost estimate for H.R. 1695, as ordered reported by the House
Committee on Resources on October 20, 1999. At that time, we
assumed that H.R. 1695 would be enacted early in fiscal year
2000 and that the sale would occur during fiscal year 2001. In
contrast, we now assume that the legislation will be enacted by
the end of fiscal year 2000 and that the sale would occur
during fiscal year 2002. In addition, two significant
differences between the two versions account for differences in
our cost estimates for this legislation.
First, the Senate version includes a provision that would
delay the spending of proceeds from the sale of land under H.R.
1695 until certain requirements are met. The House version
contains no such provision; hence, we estimated that under that
version the increase in offsetting receipts from the sale would
be fully offset by a subsequent increase in direct spending of
those receipts over the 2001-2004 period. In contrast, we
estimate that under the Senate version, such receipts would be
only partially offset by subsequent spending over the 2001-2005
period, but that they would be fully offset by 2007.
Second, under the House version of this legislation,
interest earned on the proceeds from the sale of land would be
available to be spent by the Secretary of the Interior. Hence,
we estimated that the House version would have resulted in a
net increase in direct spending of about $1 million over five
years. The Senate version of H.R. 1695 contains no such
provision; thus, we estimate that, over the 2001-2007 period,
enacting this legislation would not result in a net change in
Estimate prepared by: Federal Costs: Megan Carroll. Impact
on State, Local, and Tribal Governments: Marjorie Miller.
Impact on the Private Sector: Lauren Marks.
Estimate approved by: Peter H. Fontaine, Deputy Assistant
Director for Budget Analysis.
regulatory impact evaluation
In compliance with paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee makes the following
evaluation of the regulatory impact which would be incurred in
carrying out H.R. 1695.
The bill is not a regulatory measure in the sense of
imposing Government-established standards or significant
economic responsibilities on private individuals and
No personal information would be collected in administering
the program. Therefore, there would be no impact on personal
Little, if any, additional paperwork would result from the
enactment of H.R. 1695, as ordered reported.
On July 13, 2000, the Committee on Energy and Natural
Resources requested legislative reports from the Department of
the Interior and the Office of Management and Budget setting
forth Executive agency recommendations on H.R. 1695. These
reports had not been received at the time the report on H.R.
1695 was filed. When the reports become available, the Chairman
will request that they be printed in the Congressional Record
for the advice of the Senate. The testimony provided by the
National Park Service at the Subcommittee hearing on S. 930
Statement of John Reynolds, Regional Director, Pacific West Region,
National Park Service, Department of the Interior
Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to be here today before the
subcommittee to present the views of the Department of the
Interior on S. 930, a bill to provide for the conveyance of
certain public land in the Ivanpah Valley, Nevada, to the Clark
County, Nevada, Department of Aviation.
The department cannot support this bill as currently
written as it provides for a mandatory conveyance of public
lands circumventing existing statutory requirements for land
use planning and sale of public lands. This change creates a
poor precedent and restricts our ability to adequately evaluate
the effects of this transfer on the affected public lands and
the natural and cultural resources located therein. Further, it
prevents any meaningful evaluation of alternative sites for the
airport facility. These are exactly the kind of issues that are
appropriately examined in a thorough environmental analysis and
through the planning process. Unfortunately, the legislation
appears to waive that analysis. The department believes that
the preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS) is
mandatory before any land conveyances occur. An EIS would not
only document the impact of any airport, but would examine
alternative sites to determine if a more suitable location for
the airport and its accompanying infrastructure can be found.
The EIS process would also allow for public input into the
decision on siting of the airport. Unfortunately, the public
involvement called for in the Federal Land Policy and
Management Act (FLPMA) is eliminated in this legislation.
S. 930 would direct the Secretary of the Interior to convey
parcels of land to Clark County, Nevada, for the purpose of
establishing an airport facility and related infrastructure.
The proposed lands are along Interstate 15 between Jean and
Primm, Nevada, and are approximately ten miles north of the
Mojave National Preserve's boundary. Due to prevailing winds
from the south, the airport proposal provides only for a north-
south runway, which would mean that departing planes would
typically fly over the northern portion of the preserve.
The Mojave National Preserve was created in October 1994,
under the California Desert Protection Act. The act was
established to protect one of the most diverse desert
environments in the world. Creosote bushes, pinyon pines,
juniper woodlands, sand dunes, volcanic cinder cones, Joshua
tree forests, vast vistas and mile-high mountains can all be
found within the Mojave Desert. Visitors to the Mojave National
Preserve come to enjoy the wild splendors of the rugged,
isolated solitude of the desert, and to sightsee, hike, and
camp among the fascinating flora and fauna.
Thus, the National Park Service is deeply concerned with
the potential effects the proposed airport would have on the
Mojave National Preserve's resources and visitor experience,
especially in several wilderness areas. The proposed airport is
envisioned to be a cargo airport with major warehousing
facilities. Large, low-flying jet aircraft would be a
significant intrusion on a visitor's solitude and enjoyment of
the quiet desert environment that is currently available. Few
aircraft now fly over the preserve and commercial aircraft are
normally at crusing altitudes and barely visible. While there
are occasional military flights through the preserve, they do
not have the enormous impact on park resources and visitors
that regular overflights of departing or approaching jets would
There are real concerns that jets departing at regular
intervals would adversely impact the nearby desert bighorn
sheep in the wilderness of Clark Mountain. The desert bighorn
sheep is one of the most distinctive and easily recognized
desert animals and is generally found in isolated areas of the
desert ranges. There is research that shows that repeated jet
noise at regular intervals can increase stress in animals and
potentially have long-term effects on their reproduction and
ability to detect and escape predators.
Another desert animal that could be impacted by the noise
generated by a proposed airport is the threatened desert
tortoise. This long-lived reptile was listed as a threatened
species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1992, and
continues to face threats to its survival. Ivanpah Valley is
designated critical habitat for the desert tortoise, whose
populations have declined dramatically over the last twenty
years. Increased urban development has fragmented and reduced
suitable habitat. Studies and recover efforts are ongoing to
help protect and preserve this threatened species.
The scientific community is only beginning to investigate
and understand how animal species like the tortoise, bighorn,
and insects communicate. They have already observed that jet
noise can disrupt communication of spade food toads, creating
opprotunities for increased predation.
Another potentially significant impact to the Mojave
National Preserve from the proposed airport is the
deterioration of the natural quiet and the current night sky
darkness that visitors enjoy at the park. Light pollution is
becoming a recognized problem to many rural and rustic areas,
such as the Mojave Desert. Currently, opportunities to enjoy
natural quiet and the natural darkness of the nighttime are
being slowly impacted by development at Primm and Laughlin. A
nearby airport with runway lights, tower lights, and other
lighting requirements would adversely change the dark night
landscape and quiet character of the Mojave National Preserve.
BLM has expressed concerns that there may be potential
hydrologic complications due to the proposed location of an
airport on a dry lakebed. This lakebed floods periodically and
displaced waters could affect other development in the area.
Off-site issues that need to be examined include the potential
effects from ancillary facilities needed to support the
construction and operations of the airport, as well as the
impact on natural resources in the area, including the
endangered species, and cultural resources.
We note that, in its latest assessment of the Nation's
projected airport needs, called the National Plan of Integrated
Airport Systems (NPIAS), the FAA has identified a need in the
future for a new airport to serve the Las Vegas area.
Nonetheless, this issue, as well as others that we note today,
are appropriately examined in a thorough environmental analysis
and through the planning process already in place for new
airport site selection. Unfortunately, the legislation appears
to waive that analysis.
In addition to the concerns of the National Park Service,
the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has four major concerns
with the proposed legislation that we ask the committee to
Compliance with NEPA, FLPMA, and other
environmental laws, including the Endangered Species Act and
the Historic Preservation Act;
Agency costs associated with the transfer; and
Fair market value determination.
As the BLM testified on a similar bill before the House
Subcommittee on National Parks and Public Lands in the 105th
Congress, the passage of this bill will create conflicts with
current uses and resources of these lands. These lands have not
been identified for disposal through existing land use plans
because of those uses and resources. As mentioned previously,
the threatened desert tortoise is indigenous to the area. The
area also supports a number of recreational pursuits including
off-highway vehicle use, and it encompasses a Special
Recreation Management Area within the boundary of the proposed
land transfer. Two mining claims encumber the land and the area
is the location of two state of Nevada mineral materials
permits issued by BLM for road maintenance gravel.
There are a number of costs associated with implementation
of the bill, including land and resource surveys, appraisals,
and land transfer patent expenses. Because the transfer
benefits Clark County, the bill should specify either that
Clark County should absorb these costs or that the funds
described in section 2(d) could be used for all administrative
costs associated with the transfer.
The legislation specifies (section 2(d)) that fair market
value should be paid by Clark County for the federal land, but
that the value determined based on the land ``in its unimproved
state and shall not reflect any enhancement in value to the
parcel based upon the existence or planned construction of
infrastructure. . . .'' This, in fact, does not represent the
fair market value of the lands and raises potentially serious
concerns. We would urge the subcommittee to address this,
either by deleting the provision or by requiring that should
these lands later be sold, leased or otherwise conveyed by
Clark County, the difference between what the County paid and
the price it later receives should be remitted to the federal
account specified in section 2(d)(3). This is consistent with
language in section 4(g)(4) of Public Law 105-263, the Southern
Nevada Public Land Management Act of 1998. The American people
need to know that their assets are being protected and that any
financial gain benefits the public.
Section 203 of the FLPMA requires that the government, when
contemplating the sale of public land, consider whether the
sale would ``serve an important public objective, . . . which
cannot be achieved prudently or feasibly on land other than
public land and which outweigh other public objective and
values. . . .'' This legislation waives that very important
analysis. We think that this is a mistake.
Because of the large number of concerns raised by the
National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management, the
department believes it is critical that a decision on siting on
this airport be made only after compliance with all
requirements of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act and
the National Environmental Policy Act. Additionally, the BLM
would like the opportunity to address and potentially resolve
more minor concerns with the bill, and is prepared to work with
your staff to do so.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to share with
the subcommittee the department's position on S. 930. This
concludes my formal remarks. I will be pleased to answer any
question you or other members of the subcommittee may have.
changes in existing law
In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee notes that no
changes in existing law are made by the Act, H.R. 1695, as