S. Rept. 111-318 - 111th Congress (2009-2010)
September 27, 2010, As Reported by the Energy and Natural Resources Committee

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Senate Report 111-318 - SLOAN HILLS WITHDRAWAL ACT




[Senate Report 111-318]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]


                                                       Calendar No. 604
111th Congress                                                   Report
  2d Session                  SENATE                            111-318
=======================================================================
 
                       SLOAN HILLS WITHDRAWAL ACT 

                                _______
                                

               September 27, 2010.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

   Mr. Bingaman, from the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 3313]

    The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was 
referred the bill (S. 3313) to withdraw certain land located in 
Clark County, Nevada, from location, entry, and patent under 
the mining laws and disposition under all laws pertaining to 
mineral and geothermal leasing or mineral materials, and for 
other purposes, having considered the same, reports favorably 
thereon with an amendment and recommends that the bill, as 
amended, do pass.
    The amendment is as follows:
    On page 2, line 6, strike ``May 5, 2010'' and insert ``June 
24, 2010''.

                                PURPOSE

    The purpose of S. 3313 is to withdraw approximately 640 
acres in Clark County, Nevada, from the mining, mineral and 
geothermal leasing, and mineral materials laws.

                          BACKGROUND AND NEED

    In 2006 and 2007, two companies, Service Rock Products of 
California and CEMEX (formally Rinker Materials) of Mexico, 
submitted applications to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) 
to construct and operate an aggregate mine on 640 acres of 
federal land near Henderson, Nevada. The approval of the 
applications would result in two open pit dolomite and 
limestone quarries to extract construction aggregate material 
for the Southern Nevada area. Approximately 100 million tons of 
mineral material would be mined from the site over the next 20 
to 30 years. The proposed project, titled ``Sloan Hills 
Competitive Mineral Material Sales,'' includes several 
facilities and related buildings, storage space, and employee 
parking.
    The project has become controversial as many nearby 
residents oppose the gravel quarry proposal because of concerns 
over dirt and dust pollution and its potential impact on air 
quality, as well as the noise from blasting, rock-crushing 
operations, and truck activities. The proposed mine is located 
about three miles from several Henderson neighborhoods, and 
about five miles from the Sloan Canyon National Conservation 
Area and North McCullough Wilderness. The BLM is currently 
analyzing the potential environmental impacts of the 
construction, operation, and maintenance of the site. 
Legislation is necessary to stop the development of the 
proposed gravel quarry by withdrawing the proposal's 640 acres 
of federal land from mining purposes and associated uses.

                          LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

    S. 3313 was introduced by Senator Reid on May 5, 2010. 
Senator Ensign is a cosponsor. The Subcommittee on Public Lands 
and Forests held a hearing on the bill on June 16, 2010. At its 
business meeting on July 21, 2010, the Committee on Energy and 
Natural Resources ordered S. 3313 favorably reported with an 
amendment.

                        COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATION

    The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in open 
business session on July 21, 2010, by a voice vote of a quorum 
present, recommends that the Senate pass S. 3313, if amended as 
described herein.

                          COMMITTEE AMENDMENT

    During its consideration of S. 3313, the Committee adopted 
an amendment to update the map reference for the withdrawal 
area.

                      SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS

    Section 1 provides the short title, the ``Sloan Hills 
Withdrawal Act.''
    Section 2 withdraws the area depicted as ``Federal land'' 
on the referenced map from the mining, mineral and geothermal 
leasing, and mineral materials laws.

                   COST AND BUDGETARY CONSIDERATIONS

    The following estimate of costs of this measure has been 
provided by the Congressional Budget Office:

S. 3313--Sloan Hills Withdrawal Act

    Summary: S. 3313 would withdraw about 800 acres of federal 
land in southern Nevada from disposal, mining, and mineral-
leasing activities. Based on information from the Bureau of 
Land Management (BLM) and the mining industry, CBO estimates 
that implementing the legislation would increase direct 
spending by $11 million over the 2011-2020 period; therefore, 
pay-as-you-go procedures apply.\1\ Enacting the legislation 
would not affect revenues.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\Different time periods apply in the Senate for its pay-as-you-go 
rule. CBO estimates that enacting S. 3313 would increase direct 
spending by $1 million over the 2011-2014 period and by $9 million over 
the 2011-2019 period.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    S. 3313 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) 
and would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal 
governments.
    Estimated Cost to the Federal Government: The estimated 
budgetary impact of S. 3313 is shown in the following table. 
The costs of this legislation fall within budget function 300 
(natural resources and environment).

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                       By fiscal year, in millions of dollars--
                                                             -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                               2011   2012   2013   2014   2015   2016   2017   2018   2019   2020  2011-2015  2011-2020
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                               CHANGES IN DIRECT SPENDINGEstimated Budget Authority..................................      0      0      *      1      1      1      2      2      2      2         2         11
Estimated Outlays...........................................      0      0      *      1      1      1      2      2      2      2         2        11
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note.--* = less than $500,000.

    Basis of Estimate: S. 3313 would withdraw certain lands 
near Henderson, Nevada, from disposal, mining, and mineral-
leasing activities. Currently, BLM is analyzing the 
environmental impacts of two proposed mineral sales on the 
affected lands. Upon conclusion of that analysis, the agency 
will determine whether to sell the rights to extract those 
materials to private mining companies.
    Under current law, if BLM approved those sales, CBO expects 
that mineral production would begin around 2013 and that the 
federal government would begin receiving annual payments from 
mining companies for those mineral materials at that time. 
Under the bill, if firms could not extract minerals from the 
lands near Henderson, CBO expects that the mining industry 
would seek mineral materials on other BLM lands; however, based 
on information from BLM and the mining industry, we expect that 
production of those materials (and the corresponding payments 
to the federal government) would begin several years after 
2013. In addition, based on information from those entities, 
CBO estimates that BLM would receive lower payments for 
minerals extracted from alternative sites than for those 
extracted from the lands that would be affected under the bill 
because of differences in the quality of the materials and the 
cost of transporting those materials.
    Because production of mineral materials on BLM lands could 
be delayed and proceeds from the sale of those materials could 
be lower under S. 3313, CBO estimates that implementing the 
legislation would increase direct spending by about $11 million 
over the 2011-2020 period. That estimate includes an adjustment 
for the possibility that mineral sales may not occur at the 
site near Henderson under current law. It also includes an 
adjustment for the possibility that mineral sales may not occur 
at alternative BLM-managed sites under the bill. For this 
estimate, CBO assumes that the legislation will be enacted in 
calendar year 2010.
    Pay-As-You-Go Considerations: The Statutory Pay-As-You-Go 
Act of 2010 establishes budget-reporting and enforcement 
procedures for legislation affecting direct spending or 
revenues. S. 3313 would delay and reduce offsetting receipts 
from the sale of mineral materials on federal land. The changes 
in the deficit that are subject to those pay-as-you-go 
procedures are shown in the following table.

  CBO ESTIMATE OF PAY-AS-YOU-GO EFFECTS FOR S. 3313, THE SLOAN HILLS WITHDRAWAL ACT, AS ORDERED REPORTED BY THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND NATURAL
                                                               RESOURCES ON JULY 21, 2010
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                    By fiscal year, in millions of dollars--
                                                      --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                        2010   2011   2012   2013   2014   2015   2016   2017   2018   2019   2020  2010-2015  2010-2020
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                       NET INCREASE OR DECREASE (-) IN THE DEFICITStatutory Pay-As-You-Go Impact.......................      0      0      0      0      1      1      1      2      2      2      2         2         11
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Intergovernmental and private-sector impact: S. 3313 
contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as 
defined in UMRA and would impose no costs on state, local, or 
tribal governments.
    Estimate prepared by: Federal Costs: Jeff LaFave; Impact on 
State, Local, and Tribal Governments: Melissa Merrell; Impact 
on the Private Sector: Amy Petz.
    Estimate approved by: Peter H. Fontaine, 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 S. 3313.
    The Act is not a regulatory measure in the sense of 
imposing Government-established standards or significant 
economic responsibilities on private individuals and 
businesses.
    No personal information would be collected in administering 
the program. Therefore, there would be no impact on personal 
privacy.
    Little, if any, additional paperwork would result from the 
enactment of S. 3313, as ordered reported.

                   CONGRESSIONALLY DIRECTED SPENDING

    S. 3313, as ordered reported, does not contain any 
congressionally directed spending items, limited tax benefits, 
or limited tariff benefits as defined in rule XLIV of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate.

                        EXECUTIVE COMMUNICATIONS

    The testimony provided by the Bureau of Land Management at 
the subcommittee hearing on S. 3313 on June 16, 2010 follows:

 Statement of Carl Rountree, Director, National Landscape Conservation 
     System, Bureau of Land Management, Department of the Interior

    Thank you for the opportunity to testify on S. 3313, the 
Sloan Hills Withdrawal Act. S. 3313 would withdraw 
approximately 640 acres of BLM-administered public land in 
Clark County, Nevada, from all forms of location, entry, and 
patent under the mining laws, and from disposition under all 
laws pertaining to mineral and geothermal leasing or mineral 
material sales, subject to valid existing rights. The BLM is 
presently preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for 
two proposed competitive mineral material sales which would 
result in two open pit limestone quarries in this area, as 
required by settlement agreements between the BLM and two 
mining companies. Since the BLM is still in the process of 
analyzing the proposed sales, we defer taking a position on 
this legislation. However, if this area is legislatively 
withdrawn, the BLM would recommend a boundary adjustment to 
include additional acreage to the withdrawal area.


                               background


    The Sloan Hills area is located approximately 15 miles 
south of the City of Las Vegas, and consists of approximately 
800 acres of BLM-administered public lands. The area is 
surrounded by public lands that are within the Southern Nevada 
Public Land Management Act (SNPLMA) boundary. The SNPLMA allows 
the BLM to sell land within this disposal boundary and use the 
sale proceeds to acquire lands elsewhere in Nevada that possess 
higher natural resource values. When Congress expanded the 
SNPLMA disposal boundary in 2002 (through PL 107-282), the 
Sloan Hills area was not included.
    The Sloan Hills area has an extensive mineral development 
history. Separate, but overlapping mining claims were filed on 
the site almost thirty years ago, with little development 
occurring until the early 1990s. The two mining claimants in 
the area subleased their claims to CEMEX (formerly Rinker 
Materials West, LLC) and Service Rock Products Corp. (Service 
Rock). CEMEX subsequently filed a mining plan of operations. 
When the BLM receives a plan of operations for materials that 
may be common variety minerals and the mining claims were 
located on or after July 23, 1955, mining operations may not 
begin until the bureau completes a ``common variety 
determination'' to determine whether the materials are 
locatable under the Mining Law of 1872 (43 CFR 3809.101).
    Since the two mining claims overlapped, the BLM completed a 
common variety determination in 2004 for both sets of claims. 
The BLM concluded that the claimed materials (limestone and 
dolomite) were not locatable under the Mining Law of 1872. As a 
result, the BLM contested the mining claims. The contests were 
eventually settled, resulting in the BLM agreeing to analyze 
two competitive mineral materials sales. The settlement 
agreements do not restrict the BLM's discretion in approving or 
denying the proposed sales and the sales must comply with all 
applicable statutes and regulations (43 CFR 3600).
    In 2007, the BLM initiated an EIS to analyze the impacts of 
the two proposed competitive mineral materials sales. If 
approved, the projects would consist of two open pit limestone 
quarries that would operate for approximately 20 to 30 years, 
eventually merging into one open pit. The Draft EIS is planned 
for release in the summer of 2010, at which time the BLM will 
solicit public comments on whether it should authorize the 
proposed sales. The Draft EIS will address potential impacts 
to: air quality, noise, water resources, and socio-economic 
conditions. The area surrounding Sloan Hills (located within 
the SNPLMA disposal boundary) is likely to be developed for 
housing, commercial, and/or industrial uses during the lifetime 
of the potential sales contracts. During the Draft EIS scoping 
process, a number of Henderson, Nevada residents expressed 
their concerns with the proposed sales.


                                s. 3313


    S. 3313 would withdraw approximately 640 acres of BLM-
administered public land in Clark County, Nevada, from all 
forms of location, entry, and patent under the mining laws, and 
of disposition under all laws pertaining to mineral and 
geothermal leasing or mineral material sale subject to valid 
existing rights.
    A withdrawal from the mineral materials laws would prohibit 
the BLM from selling mineral materials in the Sloan Hills area, 
and would prohibit any future mineral use of the withdrawn 
lands, subject to valid existing rights.
    The BLM understands the concerns of Senator Reid, the 
Nevada Congressional delegation, Clark County and the City of 
Henderson regarding the proposed mineral materials sales and 
potential operations and associated air quality and noise 
impacts that would occur in close proximity to many 
neighborhoods. These and other issues will be considered in the 
Draft EIS. If this area is legislatively withdrawn, the BLM 
would recommend expanding the boundary to the entire 800 acres 
of BLM-administered public lands remaining within the Sloan 
Hills area that are excluded from the SNPLMA disposal boundary.


                               conclusion


    Thank you for the opportunity to testify. In accordance 
with the terms of the settlement agreement, the BLM is in the 
process of analyzing the proposed sales. Consequently, the BLM 
defers taking a position on the legislation at this time. The 
Bureau will continue to actively engage the public through an 
open and transparent EIS process to analyze the potential 
environmental impacts of the proposed mineral materials sales 
unless Congress chooses to legislate this withdrawal.

                        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 S. 3313, as ordered 
reported.