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114th Congress    }                                     {       Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 2d Session       }                                     {      114-716

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



 
   PROVIDING FOR STABILITY OF TITLE TO CERTAIN LANDS IN THE STATE OF 
                   LOUISIANA, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES

                                _______
                                

 September 6, 2016.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on 
            the State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

Mr. Bishop of Utah, from the Committee on Natural Resources, submitted 
                             the following

                              R E P O R T

                             together with

                            DISSENTING VIEWS

                        [To accompany H.R. 3342]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Natural Resources, to whom was referred 
the bill (H.R. 3342) to provide for stability of title to 
certain lands in the State of Louisiana, and for other 
purposes, having considered the same, report favorably thereon 
without amendment and recommend that the bill do pass.

                          PURPOSE OF THE BILL

    The purpose of H.R. 3342 is to provide for the stability of 
title to certain lands in the State of Louisiana.

                  BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR LEGISLATION

    In 1842, the U.S. government completed a survey of lands in 
Louisiana that included the area surrounding Lake Bistineau. 
Using the results of this survey, Louisiana delineated its 
ownership of lands under the Equal Footing Doctrine and 
transferred 7,000 acres of land around Lake Bistineau to the 
Commissioners of the Bossier Levee District in 1901. Three 
years later, the Commissioners of the Bossier Levee District 
conveyed this land to private ownership.
    In September 1967, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) re-
surveyed this land and two additional islands in the Lake. This 
survey presented a new boundary line based on what the BLM 
believed was the size of Lake Bistineau when Louisiana was 
admitted to the Union in 1812. Although the BLM published a 
notice in the Federal Register two years later stating that 
this new survey occurred, the agency did not notify all 
affected landowners that the new survey served as the BLM's 
claim of the lands. Further, the agency did not file its claim 
in local property records, or take any other action to claim 
title of the land.
    Almost 50 years later, in September 2013, BLM notified 
landowners that their property appeared ``to be still vested in 
the United States'' based on the results of the 1967 survey. 
Since then, the federal government and over 100 private 
landowners, with over 50 homes, have been in a dispute over the 
ownership of roughly 200 acres of land. To resolve these 
clouded titles, H.R. 3342 would invalidate the 1967 BLM survey 
and prevent any future surveys or re-surveys of the area from 
legally affecting the current titles of the affected lands in 
the area.

                            COMMITTEE ACTION

    H.R. 3342 was introduced on July 29, 2015, by Congressman 
John Fleming (R-LA). The bill was referred to the Committee on 
Natural Resources, and within the Committee to the Subcommittee 
on Federal Lands. On November 4, 2015, the Subcommittee held a 
hearing on the bill. On February 2, 2016, the Natural Resources 
Committee met to consider the bill. The Subcommittee was 
discharged by unanimous consent. No amendments were offered, 
and the bill was ordered favorably reported to the House of 
Representatives by a roll call vote of 24 yeas and 17 nays on 
February 3, 2016, as follows:

[GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]

            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.

                    COMPLIANCE WITH HOUSE RULE XIII

    1. Cost of Legislation and Section 308(a) of the 
Congressional Budget Act. With respect to the requirements of 
clause 3(c)(2) and (3) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House 
of Representatives and sections 308(a) and 402 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the Committee has received 
the enclosed cost estimate for the bill from the Director of 
the Congressional Budget Office:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                     Washington, DC, July 27, 2016.
Hon. Rob Bishop,
Chairman, Committee on Natural Resources,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 3342, a bill to 
provide for stability of title to certain lands in the State of 
Louisiana, and for other purposes.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Jeff LaFave.
            Sincerely,
                                                        Keith Hall.
    Enclosure.

H.R. 3342--A bill to provide for stability of title to certain lands in 
        the State of Louisiana, and for other purposes

    H.R. 3342 would void a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) 
survey of lands near Lake Bistineau in northwest Louisiana. The 
bill also would nullify the legal effect of any future land 
survey of the affected areas. Based on information provided by 
BLM and other affected entities, CBO estimates that 
implementing the legislation would have no effect on the 
federal budget.
    Enacting H.R. 3342 would not affect direct spending or 
revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply. CBO 
estimates that enacting the bill would not increase net direct 
spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 
10-year periods beginning in 2027.
    The bill aims to clarify ownership of 230 acres of land 
that were omitted from a federal land survey in 1842. The State 
of Louisiana subsequently deeded those lands to the Bossier 
Levee District, which transferred them to private individuals. 
Following a resurvey of the area published in 1969, BLM 
determined that the affected lands, which were then held by 
private individuals, fell under federal jurisdiction. In recent 
years, both BLM and private titleholders have claimed ownership 
of the affected lands and the subsurface mineral estate, but 
the ownership issue remains unresolved. Under current law, the 
federal government is spending no money to maintain the lands, 
and is receiving no income from them.
    H.R. 3342 would void the survey from 1969 and nullify the 
legal effect of any future surveys of the affected area. As a 
result, the 1842 survey would become the survey of record and, 
because the affected lands were omitted from the 1842 survey, 
enacting the bill would not resolve the dispute over ownership 
of those lands or the subsurface mineral estate. Because the 
probability of the federal government receiving income from the 
affected lands would not change, CBO estimates that enacting it 
would not affect the federal budget.
    The affected lands are located in an area with significant 
natural gas deposits. The development of nonfederal natural gas 
leases on adjacent lands has resulted in the extraction of 
natural gas from the mineral estate beneath the affected lands; 
royalties on that production could total up to $350,000. Any 
party ultimately determined to be the owner of the mineral 
estate of the disputed lands will be entitled to those 
royalties on past production. CBO also expects that additional 
production could occur in the future, which may result in the 
owner of the mineral estate receiving additional royalty 
payments over the next 10 years. The amount of future royalties 
is uncertain, and would depend on who owns the mineral estate, 
the quantity of natural gas within the mineral estate, the 
future price of natural gas, and the timing of any future 
development.
    H.R. 3342 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 H. Samuel Papenfuss, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.
    2. 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 provide for the stability of title 
to certain lands in the State of Louisiana.

                           EARMARK STATEMENT

    This bill does not contain any Congressional earmarks, 
limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined 
under clause 9(e), 9(f), and 9(g) of rule XXI of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives.

                    COMPLIANCE WITH PUBLIC LAW 104-4

    This bill contains no unfunded mandates.

                       COMPLIANCE WITH H. RES. 5

    Directed Rule Making. The Chairman does not believe that 
this bill directs any executive branch official to conduct any 
specific rule-making proceedings.
    Duplication of Existing Programs. This bill does not 
establish or reauthorize a program of the federal government 
known to be duplicative of another program. Such program was 
not included in any report from the Government Accountability 
Office to Congress pursuant to section 21 of Public Law 111-139 
or identified in the most recent Catalog of Federal Domestic 
Assistance published pursuant to the Federal Program 
Information Act (Public Law 95-220, as amended by Public Law 
98-169) as relating to other programs.

                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

    We oppose H.R. 3342; the bill voids the results of a 1967 
Bureau of Land Management (BLM) re-survey of lands in the 
Bossier Levee District of Northern Louisiana and restricts 
future federal surveys. In effect, this bill transfers public 
land that belongs to the American tax payer to private 
interests.
    The land at issue was originally surveyed in 1842, 
transferred to the Bossier Levee District in 1892, and conveyed 
to private owners in 1904. However, BLM conducted a re-survey 
in 1967 after realizing that certain lands were omitted from 
previous federal surveys. The re-survey put more than 200 acres 
of land previously thought to belong to Louisiana and private 
interests, back into federal ownership. Until recently, and 
despite BLM's outreach efforts to notify landowners, the 
results of this re-survey were largely ignored or forgotten. 
Today, approximately 50 homes may be impacted, and BLM is 
currently working to evaluate ownership and authorize 
conveyance, where appropriate, under the Color of Title Act. 
The Color of Title Act authorizes the BLM to convey public 
lands that have been acquired by peaceful adverse possession, 
often caused by historical surveying anomalies, such as in this 
case.
    H.R. 3342 voids the results of the 1967 survey, keeping 
ownership in the hands of local landowners without further 
consideration, potentially authorizing the conveyance of the 
federally owned sub-surface mineral estate with an estimated 
value of $10 million.
    BLM has the tools to resolve this situation and is 
committed to working with the affected landowners; Congress 
should not revoke its survey authority or convey a substantial 
mineral estate without fair compensation to the American 
taxpayer. For these reasons, we oppose H.R. 3342.
                                   Raul Grijalva.
                                   Niki Tsongas.
                                   Grace F. Napolitano.
                                   Jared Huffman.
                                   Jared Polis.
                                   Alan S. Lowenthal.

                                  [all]