H. Rept. 111-480 - 111th Congress (2009-2010)
May 11, 2010, As Reported by the Natural Resources Committee

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House Report 111-480 - DIRECTING THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR TO TRANSMIT TO THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES CERTAIN INFORMATION RELATING TO THE SECRETARY'S TREASURED LANDSCAPE INITIATIVE, POTENTIAL DESIGNATION OF NATIONAL MONUMENTS, AND HIGH PRIORITY LAND-RATIONALIZATION EFFORTS




[House Report 111-480]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]


111th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 2d Session                                                     111-480

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

 
  DIRECTING THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR TO TRANSMIT TO THE HOUSE OF 
    REPRESENTATIVES CERTAIN INFORMATION RELATING TO THE SECRETARY'S 
   TREASURED LANDSCAPE INITIATIVE, POTENTIAL DESIGNATION OF NATIONAL 
       MONUMENTS, AND HIGH PRIORITY LAND-RATIONALIZATION EFFORTS

                                _______
                                

May 11, 2010.--Referred to the House Calendar and 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. Res. 1254]

    The Committee on Natural Resources, to whom was referred 
the resolution (H. Res. 1254) directing the Secretary of the 
Interior to transmit to the House of Representatives certain 
information relating to the Secretary's Treasured Landscape 
Initiative, potential designation of National Monuments, and 
High Priority Land-Rationalization Efforts, having considered 
the same, report thereon without amendment and without 
recommendation.

                       PURPOSE OF THE RESOLUTION

    The purpose of H. Res 1254 is to direct the Secretary of 
the Interior to transmit to the House of Representatives 
certain information relating to the Secretary's Treasured 
Landscape Initiative, potential designation of National 
Monuments, and High Priority Land-Rationalization Efforts.

                  BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR LEGISLATION

    H. Res. 1254 is a resolution of inquiry that directs the 
Secretary of the Interior to transmit to the House of 
Representatives, not later than 14 days after the date of the 
adoption of the resolution by the full House, copies of all 
Department of the Interior documents, maps, records (including 
electronic records), communications and other information 
dating from July 1, 2009, and later referring to or relating to 
the Secretary of the Interior's Treasured Landscape Initiative, 
potential designation of National Monuments, and High Priority 
Land-Rationalization Efforts. Under clause 7 of rule XIII of 
the Rules of the House of Representatives, the Committee must 
act on such a resolution within 14 legislative days or a 
privileged motion to discharge the Committee will be in order 
in the House.
    Under the rules and precedents of the House, a resolution 
of inquiry is one of the methods used by the House to obtain 
information from the executive branch. According to volume 7, 
chapter 24, section 8 of Deschler's Procedure, it is a ``simple 
resolution making a direct request or demand of the President 
or the head of an executive department to furnish the House of 
Representatives with specific factual information in the 
possession of the executive branch.''

                            COMMITTEE ACTION

    H. Res. 1254 was introduced on April 15, 2010 by 
Representative Doc Hastings (R-WA). The resolution was referred 
to the Committee on Natural Resources. No hearings were held on 
the resolution. On May 5, 2010, the full Natural Resources 
Committee met to consider the resolution. A motion by 
Representative Doc Hastings to favorably report H. Res. 1254 to 
the House of Representatives was not agreed to by a vote of 20 
yeas and 22 nays, as follows: 
<GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT>

    The resolution was then ordered reported without 
recommendation 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 Natural Resources' oversight findings and 
recommendations are reflected in the body of this report.

                   CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY STATEMENT

    Clause 3(d)(1) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives does not apply, as H. Res. 1254 is not a bill 
or joint resolution.

                    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 resolution. The Committee 
estimates implementing this resolution would not result in any 
significant costs. The Congressional Budget Office did not 
provide a cost estimate for the resolution.
    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 
resolution 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 resolution is to direct the Secretary of the 
Interior to transmit to the House of Representatives certain 
information relating to the Secretary's Treasured Landscape 
Initiative, potential designation of National Monuments, and 
High Priority Land-Rationalization Efforts.

                    COMPLIANCE WITH PUBLIC LAW 104-4

    This resolution contains no unfunded mandates.

                           EARMARK STATEMENT

    H. Res. 1254 does not contain any congressional earmarks, 
limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined in 
clause 9 of rule XXI.

                PREEMPTION OF STATE, LOCAL OR TRIBAL LAW

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

                        CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW

    H. Res. 1254 would make no changes in existing law.

                            DISSENTING VIEWS

    We were compelled to introduce H. Res. 1254, a Resolution 
of Inquiry, because the Department of the Interior for two 
months has been stonewalling a written request for documents 
relating to a ``Treasured Landscapes Initiative'' and still-
secret plan for possible new national monuments, land use 
restrictions and federal acquisitions.
    Since mid-February when Republicans on the House Natural 
Resources Committee revealed several leaked pages of a secret 
Interior Department document, Secretary Salazar has received 
repeated questions from Democrats and Republicans on what 
exactly the Department is up to. The Secretary has repeatedly 
stated that there is ``no secret agenda'' and ``no hidden 
agenda.''
    And yet, it is over two months later, and neither the 
Congress nor the American people who live in the communities 
targeted by this document has seen one more page of it 
disclosed by the Administration. We revealed pages 15-21, but 
the Department has had two months and still won't let the 
public see pages 1 to 14, or pages 22 and higher.
    The night before the Natural Resources Committee was to 
meet to markup the Resolution of Inquiry, the Department 
delivered a letter and CD containing 383 pages of information. 
Some might think this response, no matter how late or slow in 
coming, would resolve the matter and the public could learn 
just what was afoot. But after reading the letter and reviewing 
the pages the Department provided, we are more alarmed than 
ever at the Department's refusal to come clean on its plans for 
possible new national monuments.
    The Department provided 383 pages of documents but said it 
was withholding over 2000 more pages from Congress and the 
public. It didn't turn over a single missing page from the key 
document that outlines the monument plans. Where are pages 1 
through 14? Where are pages 22 and higher? They haven't been 
disclosed. They are still hidden from the American people.
    The Department turned over a number of emails, but many of 
these were merely cover letters for attachments, and it did not 
provide the attachments to those emails. These attachments 
appear to be the very documents that we are requesting be 
disclosed to the public.
    Of the 383 pages we did get, seven of them are actual 
emails or documents that we Republicans sent to the Department. 
In fact, one of the only email attachments that the Department 
did disclose was our letter to the Department making the 
document request.
    Furthermore, the few, incomplete and redacted documents we 
did receive raise even more questions and concerns. We can now 
confirm that it was not just the Bureau of Land Management that 
was involved in this secret document on possible new national 
monuments and federal lands. The National Park Service, the 
Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and 
the Bureau of Reclamation were also involved. And the 
Department is still withholding the documents that reveal these 
agencies' involvement and what proposals they may have made for 
either national monuments or other restrictions or acquisitions 
of federal lands. The emails also reveal potential 
communication with the White House on this effort, though the 
documents are incomplete and this remains an open question.
    This Administration has talked a great deal about openness 
and transparency since taking office, but what we are seeing is 
stonewalling and hiding behind lawyers. If there is no secret 
or hidden agenda, then why not disclose all the pages of the 
document? What are they afraid to allow the public to see?
    Some have said the Department is too busy to disclose their 
plans. But the Department has already gathered the documents--
over 2000 pages--and then decided to withhold them from 
Congress and the public. The documents are sitting in a box or 
in a computer down in the Interior Department building just 
several blocks away from the Capitol; it takes no time or 
energy away from other activities to just give Congress a copy.
    The Department's secret planning affects districts and 
states represented by Democrats and Republicans in both the 
House and Senate. The American public and their elected 
representatives deserve answers. These plans by the 
Administration could take a terrible toll on communities across 
the West whose livelihoods depend upon the public lands 
targeted by the Administration.
    The American people have legitimate reason to be concerned 
about these secret plans. The few pages that were leaked in 
February identified that 13 million acres of Western land are 
under consideration for being put under lock and key by 
Presidential fiat without any prior Congressional or public 
knowledge or support, much as the Clinton Administration, in 
the dark of night, used the Antiquities Act to create Grand-
Staircase Escalante National Monument in Utah. In that case, 
the Governor of Utah was not notified until 2 a.m. on the day 
of the announcement of the President's edict to lock up a 
section of his state larger than Rhode Island, Delaware and the 
District of Columbia combined.
    We regret that our Democrat colleagues on the Committee 
chose to side with the Administration's stonewalling and 
blockade of public disclosure and openness when they voted 
against favorably reporting this Resolution of Inquiry to the 
full House. The seriousness of what the Department of Interior 
has been planning in secret, and the seriousness of demanding 
and expecting open, public and transparent actions by 
government officials deserved a ``Yes'' vote to favorably 
report. Our effort to hold the Administration to its own much-
hyped standard of openness and transparency will not end by 
Committee Democrats reporting out this Resolution without 
recommendation. This move effectively halts action on the 
Resolution, but it absolutely will not halt our demand and 
continued push for these documents to be disclosed to the 
public. The Secretary has repeatedly claimed there is ``no 
secret agenda'' and ``no hidden agenda'' at the same time his 
Department engages in efforts to keep its plans as secret and 
hidden from public view as possible. This is unacceptable, and 
we won't stop until this veil of secrecy is fully lifted and 
all information is brought out into the sunlight for public 
review.
                                   Doc Hastings.
                                   Rob Bishop.

                             Congress of the United States,
                                 Washington, DC, February 26, 2010.
Hon. Ken Salazar,
Secretary of the Interior,
Washington, DC.
    Dear Secretary Salazar: We were distressed to learn from an 
internal ``NOT FOR RELEASE'' document that deliberations 
regarding potential National Monument designation sites and 
``high priority land-rationalization efforts'' were taking 
place within the Department of Interior without public 
knowledge or participation.
    We do, however, take a degree of comfort in your subsequent 
statement that you hope for a more open process in which 
locally affected people and their Representatives are engaged 
in a ``public dialogue'' rather than being recipients of 
surprise announcements. While not an explicit assurance that 
the unilateral actions outlined in the document will not be 
carried out, we do hope the statement does mean that an open, 
transparent process involving the public will occur prior to 
any action by the Department or the President.
    Left unanswered at this point are many questions about the 
status of potential National Monument designations, what groups 
and individuals are or were involved in this endeavor, and the 
extent to which the process will continue to be carried out 
behind closed doors. Therefore, we request the following 
information no later than March 26, 2010.
    1. All pages of the ``Internal Draft'' document of which we 
obtained only pages 15 to 21.
    2. With regard to the ``brainstorming'' sessions you 
publicly mentioned, we would like a copy of any documents 
distributed at or in preparation for the meetings, a list of 
all participants or invitees, any notes taken at the 
meeting(s), and any memoranda, work product or follow up 
documents from the meeting(s). All records, electronic or 
otherwise, of meetings or discussions with private groups, 
individuals or other persons or entities that are not employees 
of the Department of the Interior where potential National 
Monument designations were discussed. We request all notes, 
agendas, memoranda or documents from those meetings.
    3. All documents related to the Secretary's initiative to 
compile a list of potential National Monument designations 
since July 1, 2009, including, but not limited to, maps.
    4. Any communication with any person or entity outside of 
the Department of the Interior related to the Secretary's 
initiative since July 1, 2009.
    We thank you for your prompt response to our previous 
letter and look forward to an equally prompt and fully 
informative reply to this letter.
            Sincerely,
                                   Doc Hastings,
                                           Ranking Member, Committee on 
                                               Natural Resources.
                                   Rob Bishop,
                                           Ranking Member, Subcommittee 
                                               on National Parks, 
                                               Forests and Public 
                                               Lands.
                                   Tom McClintock.
                                   Doug Lamborn.
                                   Don Young.
                                   Dean Heller.
                                   Greg Walden.
                                   Jeff Flake.
                                   Denny Rehberg.
                                   Cynthia M. Lummis.
                                   Jason Chaffetz.
                                   Pete Sessions.
                                   Scott Garrett.
                                   John Campbell.
                                   Michael Simpson.