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Calendar No. 120
113th Congress Report
1st Session 113-66
SAN JUAN COUNTY FEDERAL LAND CONVEYANCE
June 27, 2013.--Ordered to be printed
Mr. Wyden, from the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources,
submitted the following
R E P O R T
[To accompany S. 609]
The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was
referred the bill (S. 609) to authorize the Secretary of the
interior to convey certain Federal land in San Juan County, New
Mexico, and for other purposes, having considered the same,
reports favorably thereon with amendments and recommends that
the bill, as amended, do pass.
The amendments are as follows:
1. On page 1, line 9, strike ``Federal land'' and insert
``Federal surface estate''.
2. On page 2, line 19, insert ``and subject to valid
existing rights'' after ``prescribe.''
3. On page, after line 16, add the following:
(f) Withdrawal.--Subject to valid existing rights, the
Federal land is withdrawn from--
(1) location, entry, and patent under the mining
(2) disposition under all laws relating to mineral
and geothermal leasing or mineral materials.
S. 609 was introduced by Senators Udall of New Mexico and
Heinrich on March 19, 2013. A hearing was held on S. 609 by the
Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining on April 25,
2013. At its business meeting on May 16, 2013, the Committee
ordered S. 609 favorably reported with amendments.
In the 112th Congress, identical legislation was introduced
by Senators Udall of New Mexico and Bingaman on June 28, 2012.
The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in
open business session on May 16, 2013, by a voice vote of a
quorum present, recommends that the Senate pass S. 507, if
amended as described herein.
During the consideration of S. 609, the Committee adopted
an amendment to address recommendation made by the Department
of the Interior in its testimony. The amendment specifies that
the conveyance under the bill would be limited to only the
surface estate and not the subsurface mineral estate; provides
for a withdrawal of the mineral estate from the mining laws and
the mineral leasing laws; and specifies that both the
conveyance and the withdrawal are subject to valid existing
Section 1 provides for the short title, the ``San Juan
County Federal Land Conveyance Act''.
Section 2 defines key terms used in the bill.
Section 3(a) authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to
convey by sale certain Federal land in San Juan County on the
request of the landowner, subject to valid existing rights and
such terms and conditions as the Secretary may prescribe.
Subsection (b)(1) clarifies that the acres and legal
description of the Federal land conveyed under subsection (a)
is to be determined and approved by the Secretary of the
Subsection (b)(2) requires the administrative costs of the
conveyance to be paid by the landowner.
Subsection (c) directs that the landowner shall pay an
amount equal to the fair market value of the Federal land
conveyed, which will be determined by an appraisal.
Subsection (d) requires the Secretary to deposit the
proceeds of the conveyance of Federal lands in a special
account in the Treasury for the acquisition of land or
interests in land from willing sellers for resource protection
that is consistent with the purposes for which the Bald Eagle
Area of Critical Environmental Concern in the State was
COST AND BUDGETARY CONSIDERATIONS
The following estimate of costs of this measure has been
provided by the Congressional Budget Office:
S. 609--San Juan County Federal Land Conveyance Act
S. 609 would authorize the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
to sell certain federal lands located in San Juan County, New
Mexico. Based on information provided by the agency, CBO
estimates that implementing the bill would have a negligible
impact on the federal budget. Enacting the legislation would
increase offsetting receipts and associated direct spending;
therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures apply. However, CBO
estimates that those changes would have no significant impact
on future budget deficits. Enacting S. 609 would not affect
S. 609 would authorize BLM to sell 19 acres of federal land
to private landowners. The bill would require the landowners to
pay fair market value for the property. Based on information
provided by BLM, CBO estimates that proceeds from the sale of
the affected lands would increase offsetting receipts by about
$300,000. Under the bill, BLM would be authorized to retain and
spend those proceeds, without further appropriation, to acquire
other lands. In addition, the bill would require the landowners
to pay for the required survey and to cover any administrative
costs associated with the sale.
S. 609 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and
would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal governments.
The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Jeff LaFave. The
estimate was approved by Theresa Gullo, 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 S. 609.
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 S. 609, as ordered reported.
CONGRESSIONALLY DIRECTED SPENDING
S. 609, as 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.
The testimony provided by the Bureau of Land Management
April 25, 2013, Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and
Mining hearing on S. 609 follows:
Statement of Jamie Connell, Acting Deputy Director, Bureau of Land
Management, Department of the Interior
Thank you for inviting the Department of the Interior to
testify on S. 609, the San Juan Federal Land Conveyance Act.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) supports S. 609, which
provides for the sale of approximately 19 acres of public land
in northern San Juan County, New Mexico to a private party at
fair market value. We support this legislation, but would like
the opportunity to work with the sponsor and the committee on a
few modifications to S. 609.
In 1998, the BLM settled a lawsuit regarding protection of
the southwestern willow flycatcher in New Mexico. In order to
protect potential flycatcher habitat, the BLM agreed to exclude
livestock grazing from riparian areas in New Mexico by fencing
BLM-managed river tracts identified as having suitable
flycatcher habitat. While surveying lands for fencing under the
settlement agreement, the BLM discovered as many as 20
different cases of trespass on BLM-administered public lands in
These trespass cases included a 14-acre trespass into the
Bald Eagle Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) north
of Aztec, N.M. In 1999, the Blancett family, who were actively
farming these acres, was cited for trespass on approximately 19
acres of public lands. Despite resolution of many of the
identified trespass cases--including cases with the Blancetts'
neighbors to the north and south--BLM negotiation efforts with
the Blancetts were unsuccessful.
Following failed negotiations and an IBLA mediation
attempt, the Blancetts sued the Department of the Interior in
U.S. District Court in 2010. On February 27, 2012, a settlement
was reached between the Blancetts and the Department of the
Interior, and the case was dismissed with prejudice. Under that
settlement agreement, the Blancetts have two years to obtain a
legislative solution to address the trespass situation. If a
legislative solution is not obtained by March 5, 2014, or
substantial progress toward that solution is not made by that
time, the BLM will offer to sell the approximately two-acre
parcel with the family residence to the Blancetts and the BLM
may immediately begin to fence and reclaim the remaining 17
acres for bald eagle habitat, which will remain in Federal
S. 609 provides for the direct sale of approximately 19
acres of BLM-managed public land in San Juan County, New
Mexico, to the Blancetts pursuant to a 2012 settlement
agreement. The bill requires the Secretary of the Interior to
sell at fair market value approximately 19-acres of public land
to the Blancetts upon their request, as outlined in the
Under the bill, fair market value is to be determined by an
appraisal conducted using the Uniform Appraisal Standards for
Federal Land Acquisitions and other standard provisions.
Additionally, the bill requires the Blancetts to pay
administrative costs associated with the sale, including the
cost of the survey and appraisal. The BLM supports these
The bill requires the transfer to the Blancetts of all
right, title, and interest of the Federal government of these
public lands. As written, this would include the subsurface
mineral estate. The BLM notes that there are two producing oil
wells on Federal land adjacent to the lands proposed for
conveyance, and the Federal mineral lease associated with these
wells includes the lands proposed for transfer. In order to
address the existing lease and producing wells, the BLM
recommends that the Federal government retain ownership of the
mineral estate, and that the legislation provide for a
withdrawal of the mineral estate from the mining laws and
mineral leasing laws. Furthermore, we recommend that both the
conveyance and the withdrawal be subject to valid existing
Under the bill, all proceeds from the sale are to be
deposited into a special account in the Treasury for use in the
acquisition of land or interests in land to further the
protective purposes of the Bald Eagle ACEC or for resource
protection consistent with the purposes of the ACEC. Because
these funds are derived from the sale of lands, the BLM
believes these funds should be used solely to acquire other
lands or interest in lands.
The BLM supports this bill as it represents an opportunity
to resolve a longstanding trespass issue and facilitates a
reasonable and practicable conveyance of the lands to the
Blancetts that is consistent with the 2012 settlement
Thank you again for the opportunity to testify in support
of the San Juan Federal Land Conveyance Act. I would be glad to
answer your questions.
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. 609, as ordered