Report text available as:

  • TXT
  • PDF (148KB)   (PDF provides a complete and accurate display of this text.) Tip ?
110th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session                                                    110-395

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



 
     DENALI NATIONAL PARK AND ALASKA RAILROAD EXCHANGE ACT OF 2007

                                _______
                                

October 22, 2007.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

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

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 830]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Natural Resources, to whom was referred 
the bill (H.R. 830) to authorize the exchange of certain lands 
in Denali National Park in the State of Alaska, having 
considered the same, report favorably thereon with amendments 
and recommend that the bill as amended do pass.
    The amendments are as follows:
    Strike all after the enacting clause and insert the 
following:

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

  This Act may be cited as the ``Denali National Park and Alaska 
Railroad Exchange Act of 2007''.

SEC. 2. DEFINITIONS.

  In this Act:
          (1) Corporation.--The term ``Corporation'' means the Alaska 
        Railroad Corporation owned by the State of Alaska.
          (2) Secretary.--The term ``Secretary'' means the Secretary of 
        the Interior.

SEC. 3. EXCHANGE.

  (a) In General.--
          (1) Easement expanded.--The Secretary is authorized to grant 
        to the Alaska Railroad Corporation an exclusive-use easement on 
        land that is identified by the Secretary within Denali National 
        Park for the purpose of providing a location to the Corporation 
        for construction, maintenance, and on-going operation of track 
        and associated support facilities for turning railroad trains 
        around near Denali Park Station.
          (2) Easement relinquished.--In exchange for the easement 
        granted in paragraph (1), the Secretary shall require the 
        relinquishment of certain portions of the Corporation's 
        existing exclusive use easement within the boundary of Denali 
        National Park.
  (b) Conditions of the Exchange.--
          (1) Equal exchange.--The exchange of easements under this 
        section shall be on an approximately equal-acre basis.
          (2) Total acres.--The easement granted under paragraph (1) of 
        subsection (a) shall not exceed 25 acres.
          (3) Interests conveyed.--The easement conveyed to the Alaska 
        Railroad Corporation by the Secretary under this section shall 
        be under the same terms as the exclusive use easement granted 
        to the Railroad in Denali National Park in the Deed for 
        Exclusive Use Easement and Railroad Related Improvements filed 
        in Book 33, pages 985-994 of the Nenana Recording District, 
        Alaska, pursuant to the Alaska Railroad Transfer Act of 1982 
        (45 U.S.C. 1201 et seq.). The easement relinquished by the 
        Alaska Railroad Corporation to the United States under this 
        section shall, with respect to the portion being exchanged, be 
        the full title and interest received by the Alaska Railroad in 
        the Deed for Exclusive Use Easement and Railroad Related 
        Improvements filed in Book 33, pages 985-994 of the Nenana 
        Recording District, Alaska, pursuant to the Alaska Railroad 
        Transfer Act of 1982 (45 U.S.C. 1201 et seq.).
          (4) Costs.--The Alaska Railroad shall pay all costs 
        associated with the exchange under this section, including the 
        costs of compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act 
        of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), the costs of any surveys, and 
        other reasonable costs.
          (5) Land to be part of wilderness.--The lands underlying any 
        easement relinquished to the United States under this section 
        that are adjacent to designated wilderness are hereby 
        designated as wilderness and added to the Denali Wilderness, 
        the boundaries of which are modified accordingly, and shall be 
        managed in accordance with applicable provisions of the 
        Wilderness Act (78 Stat. 892) and the Alaska National Interest 
        Lands Conservation Act of 1980 (94 Stat. 2371).
          (6) Other terms and conditions.--The Secretary shall require 
        any additional terms and conditions under this section that the 
        Secretary determines to be appropriate to protect the interests 
        of the United States and of Denali National Park.

    Amend the title so as to read:

    A bill to authorize the exchange of certain interests in land in 
Denali National Park in the State of Alaska

                          PURPOSE OF THE BILL

    The purpose of H.R. 830, as ordered reported, is to 
authorize the exchange of certain interests in land in Denali 
National Park in the State of Alaska.

                  BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR LEGISLATION

    The Alaska Railroad Corporation is seeking to modify its 
exclusive use easement in Denali National Park to give the 
railroad surface use of approximately 25 acres on which to 
construct a loop or ``wye'' track so that trains may turn 
around at the Denali National Park Station, which is not 
currently possible.
    In consideration for the expanded easement, the railroad 
has offered to relinquish its exclusive-use easement on 
equivalent acreage elsewhere along its corridor through the 
park.
    The railroad received an easement on the corridor along its 
tracks through the park as part of the 1982 Alaska Railroad 
Transfer Act, or ARTA (Public Law 97-468). Under ARTA, while 
the federal railroad's holdings elsewhere were transferred to 
the state, the rail properties within Denali National Park and 
Preserve were transferred to the Secretary of the Interior as 
part of the park, subject to an exclusive-use easement.
    That easement affords the state, through the railroad, the 
exclusive right to ``use, possess, and enjoy the surface state 
of the land subject to this easement for transportation, 
communication, and transmission purposes'' and for associated 
support functions. That easement extends to as much of the 
subsurface estate as is needed for those purposes. The land 
itself, however, belongs to the park.
    According to the railroad, adding a turnaround track at the 
Denali Park Station would help accommodate the increasing 
popularity of rail travel to the park, eventually leading to 
more frequent and flexible train schedules. Increased train 
service should mean increased visitation to the park without 
further increasing car congestion. More frequent arrivals of 
smaller trains would also help to disperse visitors, making it 
easier for the park to handle the summer crowds.
    The exchange of easements requires the consent of Congress 
and the Alaska State Legislature.
    H.R. 830 would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to 
enter into the exchange. The bill, as amended, would authorize 
the exchange of easements on two equal parcels, each no more 
than 25 acres.
    Under the terms of the legislation, the railroad would 
assume all costs associated with the exchange, estimated at 
between $2 million and $3 million, including the cost of 
environmental work to meet the requirements of the National 
Environmental Policy Act.
    The lands on which the existing easements are relinquished 
would become part of the Denali Wilderness.

                            COMMITTEE ACTION

    H.R. 830 was introduced on February 5, 2007, by 
Representative Don Young (R-AK). The bill was referred to the 
Committee on Natural Resources, and within the Committee to the 
Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands. On 
September 27, 2007, the Subcommittee held a hearing on the 
bill.
    On October 10, 2007, the Subcommittee was discharged from 
further consideration of the legislation and the Full Natural 
Resources Committee met to consider the bill. Representative 
Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) offered an amendment in the nature of a 
substitute to clarify that the exchange involves only easements 
(``interests in lands''), not a trade of lands owned in fee 
simple by either party. The substitute would authorize the 
Secretary of the Interior to negotiate a change in the terms of 
the existing exclusive use easement to accommodate the 
turnaround track; in consideration of that concession, the 
railroad will relinquish its easement on an approximately equal 
acreage elsewhere along the rail corridor.
    The Grijalva amendment was adopted by unanimous consent and 
the bill as amended was ordered favorably reported to the House 
of Representatives by unanimous consent.

            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. This bill does 
not authorize funding and therefore, clause 3(c)(4) of rule 
XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives does not 
apply.
    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. 830--Denali National Park and Alaska Railroad Land Exchange Act of 
        2007

    H.R. 830 would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to 
exchange easements on land within the Denali National Park with 
the Alaska Railroad Corporation in order to build a turnaround 
for train traffic arriving at the Denali Park Station. The bill 
would not affect federal ownership of the land, and the Alaska 
Railroad would be responsible for all costs associated with 
completing the exchange. CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 
830 would have no significant impact on the federal budget. 
Enacting the legislation would not affect direct spending or 
revenues.
    H.R. 830 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and 
would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal 
governments.
    The bill would authorize the Secretary to grant to the 
Alaska Railroad Corporation an exclusive-use easement--an 
agreement that would allow the Alaska Railroad the right to use 
a specified parcel of land for certain purposes to the 
exclusion of all others--on up to 25 acres within the Denali 
National Park. The easement would be for the purposes of 
constructing and maintaining a turnaround for trains arriving 
at Denali Park Station from Anchorage and Fairbanks. In 
exchange, the Alaska Railroad would be required to relinquish 
an equal amount of land that is subject to an exclusive-use 
easement between the federal government and the railroad under 
current law. Any exchange that takes place under the bill would 
not affect federal ownership of either piece of land, and the 
Alaska Railroad would be responsible for all costs associated 
with completing the land exchange. As such, CBO estimates that 
implementing H.R. 830 would have no significant impact on the 
federal budget.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Daniel Hoople. 
This estimate was approved by Theresa Gullo, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.

                    COMPLIANCE WITH PUBLIC LAW 104-4

    This bill contains no unfunded mandates.

                           EARMARK STATEMENT

    H.R. 830 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.