H. Rept. 110-670 - 110th Congress (2007-2008)
May 22, 2008, As Reported by the Natural Resources Committee

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House Report 110-670 - PALEONTOLOGICAL RESOURCES PRESERVATION ACT




[House Report 110-670]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]



110th Congress                                            Rept. 110-670
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 2d Session                                                      Part 1

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



 
               PALEONTOLOGICAL RESOURCES PRESERVATION ACT

                                _______
                                

                  May 22, 2008.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

  Mr. Rahall, from the Committee on Natural Resources, submitted the 
                               following

                              R E P O R T

                             together with

                            DISSENTING VIEWS

                        [To accompany H.R. 554]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

  The Committee on Natural Resources, to whom was referred the 
bill (H.R. 554) to provide for the protection of 
paleontological resources on Federal lands, and for other 
purposes, having considered the same, report favorably thereon 
with an amendment and recommend that the bill as amended do 
pass.

  The amendment is as follows:
  Strike all after the enacting clause and insert the 
following:

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

  This Act may be cited as the ``Paleontological Resources Preservation 
Act''.

SEC. 2. DEFINITIONS.

  As used in this Act:
          (1) Casual collecting.--The term ``casual collecting'' means 
        the collecting of a reasonable amount of common invertebrate 
        and plant paleontological resources for non-commercial personal 
        use, either by surface collection or the use of non-powered 
        hand tools resulting in only negligible disturbance to the 
        Earth's surface and other resources. As used in this paragraph, 
        the terms ``reasonable amount'', ``common invertebrate and 
        plant paleontological resources'', ``paleontological 
        interest'', and ``negligible disturbance'' shall be determined 
        by the Secretary.
          (2) Secretary.--The term ``Secretary'' means the Secretary of 
        the Interior with respect to lands controlled or administered 
        by the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of 
        Agriculture with respect to National Forest System Lands 
        controlled or administered by the Secretary of Agriculture.
          (3) Federal lands.--The term ``Federal lands'' means--
                  (A) lands controlled or administered by the Secretary 
                of the Interior, except Indian lands; or
                  (B) National Forest System lands controlled or 
                administered by the Secretary of Agriculture.
          (4) Indian lands.--The term ``Indian Land'' means lands of 
        Indian tribes, or Indian individuals, which are either held in 
        trust by the United States or subject to a restriction against 
        alienation imposed by the United States.
          (5) State.--The term ``State'' means the fifty States, the 
        District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and any 
        other territory or possession of the United States.
          (6) Paleontological resource.--The term ``paleontological 
        resource'' means any fossilized remains, traces, or imprints of 
        organisms, preserved in or on the earth's crust, that are of 
        paleontological interest and that provide information about the 
        history of life on earth, except that the term does not 
        include--
                  (A) any materials associated with an archaeological 
                resource (as defined in section 3(1) of the 
                Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 (16 
                U.S.C. 470bb(1))); or
                  (B) any cultural item (as defined in section 2 of the 
                Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act 
                (25 U.S.C. 3001)).

SEC. 3. MANAGEMENT.

  (a) In General.--The Secretary shall manage and protect 
paleontological resources on Federal lands using scientific principles 
and expertise. The Secretary shall develop appropriate plans for 
inventory, monitoring, and the scientific and educational use of 
paleontological resources, in accordance with applicable agency laws, 
regulations, and policies. These plans shall emphasize interagency 
coordination and collaborative efforts where possible with non-Federal 
partners, the scientific community, and the general public.
  (b) Coordination.--To the extent possible, the Secretary of the 
Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture shall coordinate in the 
implementation of this Act.

SEC. 4. PUBLIC AWARENESS AND EDUCATION PROGRAM.

  The Secretary shall establish a program to increase public awareness 
about the significance of paleontological resources.

SEC. 5. COLLECTION OF PALEONTOLOGICAL RESOURCES.

  (a) Permit Requirement.--
          (1) In general.--Except as provided in this Act, a 
        paleontological resource may not be collected from Federal 
        lands without a permit issued under this Act by the Secretary.
          (2) Casual collecting exception.--The Secretary may allow 
        casual collecting without a permit on Federal lands controlled 
        or administered by the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of 
        Reclamation, and the Forest Service, where such collection is 
        consistent with the laws governing the management of those 
        Federal lands and this Act.
          (3) Previous permit exception.--Nothing in this section shall 
        affect a valid permit issued prior to the date of enactment of 
        this Act.
  (b) Criteria for Issuance of a Permit.--The Secretary may issue a 
permit for the collection of a paleontological resource pursuant to an 
application if the Secretary determines that--
          (1) the applicant is qualified to carry out the permitted 
        activity;
          (2) the permitted activity is undertaken for the purpose of 
        furthering paleontological knowledge or for public education;
          (3) the permitted activity is consistent with any management 
        plan applicable to the Federal lands concerned; and
          (4) the proposed methods of collecting will not threaten 
        significant natural or cultural resources.
  (c) Permit Specifications.--A permit for the collection of a 
paleontological resource issued under this section shall contain such 
terms and conditions as the Secretary deems necessary to carry out the 
purposes of this Act. Every permit shall include requirements that--
          (1) the paleontological resource that is collected from 
        Federal lands under the permit will remain the property of the 
        United States;
          (2) the paleontological resource and copies of associated 
        records will be preserved for the public in an approved 
        repository, to be made available for scientific research and 
        public education; and
          (3) specific locality data will not be released by the 
        permittee or repository without the written permission of the 
        Secretary.
  (d) Modification, Suspension, and Revocation of Permits.--
          (1) The Secretary may modify, suspend, or revoke a permit 
        issued under this section--
                  (A) for resource, safety, or other management 
                considerations; or
                  (B) when there is a violation of term or condition of 
                a permit issued pursuant to this section.
          (2) The permit shall be revoked if any person working under 
        the authority of the permit is convicted under section 7 or is 
        assessed a civil penalty under section 8.
  (e) Area Closures.--In order to protect paleontological or other 
resources or to provide for public safety, the Secretary may restrict 
access to or close areas under the Secretary's jurisdiction to the 
collection of paleontological resources.

SEC. 6. CURATION OF RESOURCES.

  Any paleontological resource, and any data and records associated 
with the resource, collected under a permit, shall be deposited in an 
approved repository. The Secretary may enter into agreements with non-
Federal repositories regarding the curation of these resources, data, 
and records.

SEC. 7. PROHIBITED ACTS; CRIMINAL PENALTIES.

  (a) In General.--A person may not--
          (1) excavate, remove, damage, or otherwise alter or deface or 
        attempt to excavate, remove, damage, or otherwise alter or 
        deface any paleontological resources located on Federal lands 
        unless such activity is conducted in accordance with this Act;
          (2) exchange, transport, export, receive, or offer to 
        exchange, transport, export, or receive any paleontological 
        resource if, in the exercise of due care, the person knew or 
        should have known such resource to have been excavated or 
        removed from Federal lands in violation of any provisions, 
        rule, regulation, law, ordinance, or permit in effect under 
        Federal law, including this Act; or
          (3) sell or purchase or offer to sell or purchase any 
        paleontological resource if, in the exercise of due care, the 
        person knew or should have known such resource to have been 
        excavated, removed, sold, purchased, exchanged, transported, or 
        received from Federal lands.
  (b) False Labeling Offenses.--A person may not make or submit any 
false record, account, or label for, or any false identification of, 
any paleontological resource excavated or removed from Federal lands.
  (c) Penalties.--A person who knowingly violates or counsels, 
procures, solicits, or employs another person to violate subsection (a) 
or (b) shall, upon conviction, be fined in accordance with title 18, 
United States Code, or imprisoned not more than 2 years, or both; but 
if the sum of the commercial and paleontological value of the 
paleontological resources involved and the cost of restoration and 
repair of such resources does not exceed $500, such person shall be 
fined in accordance with title 18, United States Code, or imprisoned 
not more than one year, or both. In the case of a second or subsequent 
such violation, upon conviction, such person shall be fined in 
accordance with title 18, United States Code, or imprisoned not more 
than 5 years, or both.
  (d) General Exception.--Nothing in subsection (a) shall apply to any 
person with respect to any paleontological resource which was in the 
lawful possession of such person prior to the date of the enactment of 
this Act.

SEC. 8. CIVIL PENALTIES.

  (a) In General.--
          (1) Hearing.--A person who violates any prohibition contained 
        in an applicable regulation or permit issued under this Act may 
        be assessed a penalty by the Secretary after the person is 
        given notice and opportunity for a hearing with respect to the 
        violation. Each violation shall be considered a separate 
        offense for purposes of this section.
          (2) Amount of penalty.--The amount of such penalty assessed 
        under paragraph (1) shall be determined under regulations 
        promulgated pursuant to this Act, taking into account the 
        following factors:
                  (A) The scientific or fair market value, whichever is 
                greater, of the paleontological resource involved, as 
                determined by the Secretary.
                  (B) The cost of response, restoration, and repair of 
                the resource and the paleontological site involved.
                  (C) Any other factors considered relevant by the 
                Secretary assessing the penalty.
          (3) Multiple offenses.--In the case of a second or subsequent 
        violation by the same person, the amount of a penalty assessed 
        under paragraph (2) may be doubled.
          (4) Limitation.--The amount of any penalty assessed under 
        this subsection for any one violation shall not exceed an 
        amount equal to double the cost of response, restoration, and 
        repair of resources and paleontological site damage plus double 
        the scientific or fair market value of resources destroyed or 
        not recovered.
  (b) Petition for Judicial Review; Collection of Unpaid Assessments.--
          (1) Judicial review.--Any person against whom an order is 
        issued assessing a penalty under subsection (a) may file a 
        petition for judicial review of the order in the United States 
        District Court for the District of Columbia or in the district 
        in which the violation is alleged to have occurred within the 
        30-day period beginning on the date the order making the 
        assessment was issued. Upon notice of such filing, the 
        Secretary shall promptly file such a certified copy of the 
        record on which the order was issued. The court shall hear the 
        action on the record made before the Secretary and shall 
        sustain the action if it is supported by substantial evidence 
        on the record considered as a whole.
          (2) Failure to pay.--If any person fails to pay a penalty 
        under this section within 30 days--
                  (A) after the order making assessment has become 
                final and the person has not filed a petition for 
                judicial review of the order in accordance with 
                paragraph (1); or
                  (B) after a court in an action brought in paragraph 
                (1) has entered a final judgment upholding the 
                assessment of the penalty, the Secretary may request 
                the Attorney General to institute a civil action in a 
                district court of the United States for any district in 
                which the person if found, resides, or transacts 
                business, to collect the penalty (plus interest at 
                currently prevailing rates from the date of the final 
                order or the date of the final judgment, as the case 
                may be). The district court shall have jurisdiction to 
                hear and decide any such action. In such action, the 
                validity, amount, and appropriateness of such penalty 
                shall not be subject to review. Any person who fails to 
                pay on a timely basis the amount of an assessment of a 
                civil penalty as described in the first sentence of 
                this paragraph shall be required to pay, in addition to 
                such amount and interest, attorneys fees and costs for 
                collection proceedings.
  (c) Hearings.--Hearings held during proceedings instituted under 
subsection (a) shall be conducted in accordance with section 554 of 
title 5, United States Code.
  (d) Use of Recovered Amounts.--Penalties collected under this section 
shall be available to the Secretary and without further appropriation 
may be used only as follows:
          (1) To protect, restore, or repair 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. Any acquisition 
        shall be subject to any limitations contained in the organic 
        legislation for such Federal lands.
          (2) To provide educational materials to the public about 
        paleontological resources and sites.
          (3) To provide for the payment of rewards as provided in 
        section 9.

SEC. 9. REWARDS AND FORFEITURE.

  (a) Rewards.--The Secretary may pay from penalties collected under 
section 7 or 8 or appropriated funds--
          (1) consistent with amounts established in regulations by the 
        Secretary; or
          (2) if no such regulation exists, an amount up to one-half of 
        the penalties, to any person who furnishes information which 
        leads to the finding of a civil violation, or the conviction of 
        criminal violation, with respect to which the penalty was paid. 
        If several persons provided the information, the amount shall 
        be divided among the persons. No officer or employee of the 
        United States or of any State or local government who furnishes 
        information or renders service in the performance of his 
        official duties shall be eligible for payment under this 
        subsection.
  (b) Forfeiture.--All paleontological resources with respect to which 
a violation under section 7 or 8 occurred and which are in the 
possession of any person, and all vehicles and equipment of any person 
that were used in connection with the violation, shall be subject to 
civil forfeiture, or upon conviction, to criminal forfeiture. All 
provisions of law relating to the seizure, forfeiture, and condemnation 
of property for a violation of this Act, the disposition of such 
property or the proceeds from the sale thereof, and remission or 
mitigation of such forfeiture, as well as the procedural provisions of 
chapter 46 of title 18, United States Code, shall apply to the seizures 
and forfeitures incurred or alleged to have incurred under the 
provisions of this Act.
  (c) Transfer of Seized Resources.--The Secretary may transfer 
administration of seized paleontological resources to Federal or non-
Federal educational institutions to be used for scientific or 
educational purposes.

SEC. 10. CONFIDENTIALITY.

  Information concerning the nature and specific location of a 
paleontological resource shall be exempt from disclosure under section 
552 of title 5, United States Code, and any other law unless the 
Secretary determines that disclosure would--
          (1) further the purposes of this Act;
          (2) not create risk of harm to or theft or destruction of the 
        resource or the site containing the resource; and
          (3) be in accordance with other applicable laws.

SEC. 11. REGULATIONS.

  As soon as practical after the date of the enactment of this Act, the 
Secretary shall issue such regulations as are appropriate to carry out 
this Act, providing opportunities for public notice and comment.

SEC. 12. SAVINGS PROVISIONS.

  Nothing in this Act shall be construed to--
          (1) invalidate, modify, or impose any additional restrictions 
        or permitting requirements on any activities permitted at any 
        time 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 including but 
        not limited to the Federal Land Policy Management Act (43 
        U.S.C. 1701-1784), Public Law 94-429 (commonly known as the 
        ``Mining in the Parks Act'') (16 U.S.C. 1901 et seq.), the 
        Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (30 U.S.C. 
        1201-1358), and the Organic Administration Act (16 U.S.C. 478, 
        482, 551);
          (2) invalidate, modify, or impose any additional restrictions 
        or permitting requirements on any activities permitted at any 
        time under existing laws and authorities relating to 
        reclamation and multiple uses of Federal lands;
          (3) apply to, or require a permit for, casual collecting of a 
        rock, mineral, or invertebrate or plant fossil that is not 
        protected under this Act;
          (4) affect any lands other than Federal lands or affect the 
        lawful recovery, collection, or sale of paleontological 
        resources from lands other than Federal lands;
          (5) 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; or
          (6) create any right, privilege, benefit, or entitlement for 
        any person who is not an officer or employee of the United 
        States acting in that capacity. No person who is not an officer 
        or employee of the United States acting in that capacity shall 
        have standing to file any civil action in a court of the United 
        States to enforce any provision or amendment made by this Act.

SEC. 13. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.

  There are authorized to be appropriated such sums as may be necessary 
to carry out this Act.

                          PURPOSE OF THE BILL

    The purpose of H.R. 554 is to provide for the protection of 
paleontological resources on federal lands and for other 
purposes.

                  BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR LEGISLATION

    The Senate Report accompanying the Fiscal Year 1999 
Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations bill (S. 105-227) 
noted that, ``the Committee is aware that no unified federal 
policy exists'' regarding management of paleontological 
resources on federal land and that, ``the lack of appropriate 
standards may lead to the deterioration or loss of these 
fossils and the permanent loss of a valuable scientific 
resource.'' The Committee on Appropriations therefore directed 
the Secretary of the Interior to develop a report assessing the 
need for such a unified federal policy.
    In response to this directive, the Secretary submitted a 
report to Congress in May of 2000 entitled Fossils on Federal 
and Indian Land. The Bureaus of Land Management (BLM), Indian 
Affairs (BIA) and Reclamation (BOR) and the National Park 
(NPS), Fish and Wildlife (FWS) and Forest Services (FS), as 
well as the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the 
Smithsonian Institution collaborated on the report. The report 
also includes public comment solicited through notices in the 
Federal Register and a public meeting. H.R 554 incorporates 
many of the report's recommendations.
    A version of this legislation has been introduced in the 
last four Congresses and passed the Senate in the 108th and 
109th Congresses.

                            COMMITTEE ACTION

    H.R. 554 was introduced on January 18, 2007 by 
Representative James McGovern (D-MA). The bill was referred to 
the Committee on Natural Resources, and within the Committee to 
the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands. 
The bill was also referred to the Committee on Agriculture.
    On April 17, 2007, the Subcommittee held a hearing on the 
bill. The Administration testified in support of H.R. 554 while 
also suggesting several amendments. On May 14, 2008, the Full 
Natural Resources Committee met to consider the bill. The 
Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands was 
discharged from further consideration of the bill. Subcommittee 
Chairman Grijalva (D-AZ) offered an amendment in the nature of 
a substitute modifying the possible penalties for violation of 
the Act and making other technical changes suggested by the 
Administration. The Grijalva substitute was adopted by voice 
vote. H.R. 554, as amended, was then ordered favorably reported 
to the House of Representatives by voice vote.

                      SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS

Section 1. Short title

    This section provides that the bill may be cited as the 
``Paleontological Resources Preservation Act.''

Section 2. Definitions

    This section defines the significant terms used in H.R. 
554, including definitions of which federal lands are covered 
by the bill. Section 2 defines a paleontological resource as 
``any fossilized remains, traces, or imprints of organisms 
preserved in or on the earth's crust.'' The bill specifically 
excludes materials associated with archeological resources 
(covered by the Archeological Resources Protection Act; 16 
U.S.C. 470bb(1)) or Native American cultural items (covered by 
the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act; 25 
U.S.C. 3001).

Section 3. Management

    This section establishes general management goals for 
paleontological resources on federal land, including the use of 
scientific expertise and cooperation among federal land 
management agencies.

Section 4. Public awareness and education program

    This section requires the Secretary to establish a program 
to increase public awareness about the significance of 
paleontological resources.

Section 5. Collection of paleontological resources

    Section 5(a)(1) specifies that a paleontological resource 
may not be collected from federal lands without a permit issued 
pursuant to this Act. Section 5(a)(2) contains an exception to 
the permit requirement for ``casual collecting'' defined in 
Section 2 of the bill as ``collecting a reasonable amount of 
common invertebrate and plant paleontological resources for 
noncommercial personal use, either by surface collection or the 
use of non-powered hand tools resulting in only negligible 
disturbance to the Earth's surface and other resources.'' 
Section 5 also specifies the requirements for obtaining a 
permit, the process for modifying a permit and makes clear that 
permits issued prior to enactment of this Act will remain 
valid.

Section 6. Curation of resources

    Section 6 requires that paleontological resources collected 
pursuant to a permit issued under this Act remain the property 
of the federal government and be deposited into a repository 
approved by the Secretary.

Section 7. Prohibited acts; criminal penalties

    Section 7 specifies those activities which are violations 
of this Act and proscribes criminal penalties for such 
violations.

Section 8. Civil penalties

    Section 8 authorizes assessment of civil fines and other 
penalties for knowing violations of this Act and outlines a 
process for judicial review of such penalties.

Section 9. Rewards and forfeiture

    Section 9 allows the Secretary to offer rewards for 
information leading to conviction for violations of this Act. 
The Section also authorizes confiscation of all paleontological 
resources collected in violation of this Act as well as all 
equipment used in collecting such resources and any proceeds 
from the sale of such resources.

Section 10. Confidentiality

    This section exempts paleontological resources from federal 
laws requiring public dissemination of information regarding 
the nature and specific location of such resources.

Section 11. Regulations

    Section 11 requires the Secretary to promulgate regulations 
implementing this Act.

Section 12. Savings provisions

    This section clarifies the impact of this Act on other 
statutes.

Section 13. Authorization of appropriations

    This section authorizes appropriation of such sums as are 
necessary to carry out this Act.

            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 Natural Resources' oversight findings and 
recommendations are reflected in the body of this report.

                   CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY STATEMENT

    Article I, section 8 of the Constitution of the United 
States grants 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, spending 
authority, credit authority, or an increase or decrease in 
revenues or tax expenditures.
    3. General Performance Goals and Objectives. As required by 
clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII, the general performance goal or 
objective of this bill is to protect paleontological resources 
on federal lands.
    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:

H.R. 554--Paleontological Resources Preservation Act

    H.R. 554 would codify current Administration policy 
regarding the preservation and use of paleontological resources 
on federal lands. (Paleontological resources include fossilized 
remains, traces, or imprints of organisms that are preserved in 
or on the Earth's crust.) The bill also would establish 
criminal and civil penalties for unlawfully collecting or 
selling paleontological resources. CBO estimates that any 
budgetary impact of implementing the bill would be negligible.
    The bill contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and 
would have no significant impact on the budgets of state, 
local, or tribal governments.
    H.R. 554 would prohibit taking or damaging paleontological 
resources located on federal lands without permission, selling 
or purchasing such resources, or submitting false documents 
relating to them. By codifying prohibitions against those 
activities, the bill would make it easier for the federal 
government to prosecute cases against violators. CBO expects, 
however, that any increase in federal costs for law enforcement 
would be minimal because of the small number of cases likely to 
be involved. Any such additional costs would be subject to the 
availability of appropriated funds.
    Because those prosecuted and convicted under H.R. 554 would 
be subject to criminal fines and civil penalties, the federal 
government might collect additional revenues if the bill is 
enacted. Under existing law, criminal fines are deposited in 
the Crime Victims Fund and spent without further appropriation 
in subsequent years. Under the provisions of this bill, certain 
civil penalties also would be available to be spent without 
further appropriation. CBO expects that any additional revenue 
collected under H.R. 554 would be less than $500,000 each year 
and would be offset by additional direct spending.
    On February 12, 2007, CBO transmitted a cost estimate for 
S. 320, the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act, as 
ordered reported by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural 
Resources on January 31, 2007. The two versions of the 
legislation are very similar, and their estimated costs are the 
same.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Deborah Reis. 
This estimate was approved by Peter H. Fontaine, Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.

                    COMPLIANCE WITH PUBLIC LAW 104-4

    This bill contains no unfunded mandates.

                           EARMARK STATEMENT

    H.R. 554 does not contain any congressional earmarks, 
limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined in 
clause 9(d), 9(e) or 9(f) of rule XXI.

                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

    Americans have long been collectors of fossils. Thomas 
Jefferson was fascinated by the fossilized bones of mastodons 
and giant sloths and one of his charges to Lewis and Clark on 
their epic exploration of the American West was to try to 
discover a living representative of these impressive creatures. 
Since that time, thanks to generations of amateur and 
professional practitioners of what we now call paleontology, we 
today know a lot more about the many species that now remain on 
the earth only as fossils. The hobbyists and scholars who 
gathered their finds and organized the knowledge gained from 
their discoveries were lucky to have existed before this bill 
becomes law. Their good timing keeps them out of the hands of 
the about to be created corps of fossil police.
    H.R. 554 is a poorly crafted bill that, if vigorously 
enforced, will turn tens of thousands of Americans who, like 
Jefferson, are amateur paleontologists into felons and will 
have a chilling effect on paleontological research. Although 
appropriate legislation could be helpful in bringing about 
uniformity in laws governing paleontological activities on 
public lands in a way that would encourage scientific research, 
allow for fossils to be collected before they are destroyed by 
the elements, protect surrounding lands from unnecessary harm 
from excavations, protect the ability of both academic and non-
academic paleontologists to explore for fossils in appropriate 
areas, establish clear guidelines for public land managers and 
the public to follow and not usurp the duty of Congress to 
establish such policies legislatively, H.R. 554 fails on all of 
these counts. Paleontological research on our public lands 
should be encouraged, not punished and regulated with a 
bureaucratic iron fist that H.R. 554 will surely give us. H.R. 
554 will most affect those who are not full-time 
paleontologists, those who do it as a hobby and some who do it 
for legitimate profit. H.R. 554 will treat these law-abiding 
Americans as harshly as heroin dealers in some cases. Is this 
the way we want to treat those who have given us many of the 
greatest fossil discoveries?
    H.R. 554 punishes violators using means usually reserved 
for the most heinous crimes. This legislation would subject 
fossil collectors to imprisonment and vehicle forfeiture. The 
Association of Applied Paleontological Sciences in a letter 
criticizing H.R. 554 stated, ``Our government does not need to 
put scientists in jail and confiscate university vans. We can 
visualize now a group of students unknowingly crossing over an 
invisible line and ending up handcuffed and prosecuted.'' H.R. 
554 contains several provisions that run counter to scientific 
practices and principles. For example, the bill seeks to punish 
offenders by taking into account ``scientific value.'' There is 
no logical scientific or empirical way to assign a dollar 
amount to scientific value. H.R. 554 also punishes those who 
falsely identify a fossil find, no matter if it is accidental. 
There is no museum that is free of labeling errors; this is an 
outrageously unrealistic standard to be met, especially 
considering that these fossil finds are often labeled in remote 
locations with little to no resources. There are no provisions 
in H.R. 554 for commercial collecting on public lands. However 
one feels about people financially gaining from fossil 
collecting, everyone acknowledges it plays an important role in 
the paleontology field and most would acknowledge that but for 
financial gain many discoveries would not have been made. Most 
stunning of all is H.R. 554 creates an incentive for 
overzealous enforcement by allowing for eminent domain to be 
used to acquire lands using funds from collected penalties.
    We would happily work with the sponsor of H.R. 554 to draft 
a bill that truly addresses the problems that currently exists 
in regards to paleontological practices on public lands. Many 
of us represent districts that contain these federal lands and 
have a personal understanding of the issue that sometimes seems 
to elude representatives without federal lands in their 
district. We would like a bill to reflect the wishes of all of 
those affected by legislation of this type, not just the few.

                                   Don Young.
                                   Doug Lamborn.
                                   John J. Duncan, Jr.
                                   Bill Sali.
                                   Robert J. Wittman.
                                   Cathy McMorris Rodgers.
                                   Stevan Pearce.
                                   Mary Fallin.
                                   Tom Tancredo.
                                   Chris Cannon.
                                   Harry E. Brown.
                                   Luis Fortuno.
                                   Bill Shuster.
                                   Jeff Flake.
                                   Adrian Smith.
                                   Rob Bishop.
                                   Louie Gohmert.
                                   Tom Cole.
                                   Elton Gallegly.
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