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115th Congress    }                                         {   Report
                         HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session      }                                         {  115-218




 July 13, 2017.--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. 218]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Natural Resources, to whom was referred 
the bill (H.R. 218) to provide for the exchange of Federal land 
and non-Federal land in the State of Alaska for the 
construction of a road between King Cove and Cold Bay, 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. 218 is to provide for the exchange of 
Federal land and non-Federal land in the State of Alaska for 
the construction of a road between King Cove and Cold Bay.


    The communities of King Cove and Cold Bay are located at 
the far west end of the Alaskan Peninsula, 625 miles southwest 
of Anchorage. King Cove is especially remote, linked to the 
outside world by a small gravel airstrip and a harbor. In the 
winter, harsh weather conditions and gale-force winds routinely 
ground planes and prohibit sea travel, preventing the community 
of nearly 1,000 from accessing hospitals and other emergency 
services. This has resulted in a number of fatal accidents over 
the years, with evacuation from King Cove sometimes taking days 
due to the extreme weather. As a result, the residents of King 
Cove seek a public road to the larger, more modern airport 
twenty miles away in Cold Bay, which serves as the regional 
transportation hub and a site for medical evacuations to fully 
staffed hospitals outside the region. Important to this bill, 
Cold Bay originated as World War II-era military base, and as a 
result has a sizable network of roads and infrastructure 
surrounding the community, some of which currently exist on the 
surrounding wilderness and National Wildlife Refuge areas.\1\
    \1\The Aleutians East Borough, ``King Cove Road Fact Sheet,'' 
updated February 1, 2017.
%7BEBDABE05-9D39-4ED4-98D4 -908383A7714A%7D/uploads/
    Between the two communities lie both the Izembek National 
Wildlife Refuge and a section of the Alaska Peninsula National 
Wildlife Refuge, two small components of Alaska's nearly 59 
million acres of designated wilderness. The Izembek National 
Wildlife Refuge was originally established as a Wildlife Range 
by an Alaska Public Land Order in 1960, and then was later 
converted to a National Wildlife Refuge by the Alaska National 
Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA, 16 U.S.C. 3101 et 
seq.) in 1980.\2\ Additionally, the Alaska Peninsula National 
Wildlife Refuge was also designated with ANILCA's passage. Both 
Refuges serve as important feeding grounds for migratory birds, 
with nearly the entire population of three separate species of 
geese returning to the Refuges each fall.\3\
    \2\The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Izembek National Wildlife 
Refuge. ``About the Refuge,'' updated July 24, 2013. https://
    \3\The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Alaska Peninsula Wildlife 
Refuge. ``About the Refuge,'' updated July 24, 2013. https://
    King Cove community leaders have sought a road linking the 
two towns for nearly four decades.\4\ Major legislative action 
began in the 105th Congress, with then Natural Resources 
Committee Chairman Don Young introducing H.R. 2259, the King 
Cove Health and Safety Act of 1997, to facilitate a major land 
exchange between the State of Alaska and the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service (FWS). Despite similar legislation (S. 1092) 
passing the Senate on a 59-38 vote, no House action was taken 
due to opposition from the Clinton White House and pushback 
from environmental groups.\5\ Ultimately, Congress provided 
$37.5 million in additional funding to the community of King 
Cove to fund the construction of a hovercraft terminal and 
local medical facility, as an alternative to constructing a 
road through the wilderness area.\6\ However, despite the 
additional funding, the hovercraft workaround only served to be 
a temporary fix, with services only operating between 2007 and 
2010 and eventually ceasing due to extreme operating costs and 
the inability to handle rough weather conditions.\7\ In the 
110th Congress, Congressman Young again introduced legislation, 
H.R. 2801, to facilitate a land swap between the State of 
Alaska and FWS. The bill was ordered reported to the House 
floor, but no further action was taken.
    \4\The Aleutians East Borough op. cit., page 2.
    \5\Warrick, Jo. ``King Cove's Relentless Road War,'' The Washington 
Post, May 27, 1998. Accessed March 30, 2017. https://
    \6\The Wilderness Society, ``History of the Proposed Road Through 
Izembek National Wildlife Refuge,'' updated April 16, 2016. http:// -
%20History%20of%20the%20 Proposed%20Road%20Through%20Izembek 
    \7\The Aleutians East Borough op. cit., page 1.
    Headway was made in 2009, when Congress passed the Omnibus 
Public Land Management Act (P.L. 111-11), which authorized the 
Secretary of the Interior to determine if building the proposed 
road would serve the public interest. Accordingly, FWS prepared 
an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under the national 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA, 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) 
and released the final EIS in February 2013. The final EIS 
outlined five alternatives: two road construction alternatives; 
one hovercraft improvement alternative; one harbor improvement 
alternative; and the preferred alternative, no action.\8\
    \8\The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, ``Chapter 2: Alternatives,'' 
in Izembek National Wildlife Refuge Land Exchange/Road Corridor Final 
Environmental Impact Statement. Updated February 6, 2013. https://
    Following the release of the final EIS, then Secretary of 
the Interior Ken Salazar directed the incoming Secretary of the 
Interior Sally Jewell to hold an official meeting in King Cove 
prior to making a final decision on the EIS. As a result, 
Secretary Jewell visited King Cove in September 2013, but 
ultimately decided to reject the land swap and uphold the FWS's 
preferred no action alternative.\9\ The King Cove tribes, the 
City of King Cove Corporation, and the Aleutians East Borough 
sued the Department of the Interior (DOI) and Secretary Jewell 
as a result of the decision, but in 2015 the Alaska District 
Court ruled that neither DOI nor Secretary Jewell violated NEPA 
or the Omnibus Public Land Management Act in the decision-
making process.\10\
    \9\U.S. Department of the Interior, ``Press Release: Secretary 
Jewell Issues Decision on Izembek National Wildlife Refuge Land 
Exchange and Road Proposal.'' Updated April 26, 2016. https://
    \10\The Aleutians East Borough op. cit., page 2.
    Despite the funding for the hovercraft terminal and 
improvements made at the medical facility, the fact remains 
that King Cove is physically isolated from the outside world in 
the event of severe weather. Fifty-five emergency medevacs have 
been required since Secretary Jewell's visit in 2013, a number 
of which have required either costly Coast Guard involvement, 
extended patient waiting times, or both. For instance, in 2016, 
a King Cove woman in her 70s suffering from heart issues was 
evacuated from King Cove to Cold Bay by the Coast Guard after 
high winds prevented an air ambulance from landing at King 
Cove. In the end, it took the woman over seven hours to reach a 
hospital in Anchorage. A road between King Cove and Cold Bay 
would go a long way from preventing similar situations from 
reoccurring, and would provide a potentially life-saving 
evacuation route for King Cove citizens in the event of an 
    \11\The Aleutians East Borough, ``King Cove Optimistic President-
elect Donald Trump and Interior Secretary Nominee Ryan Zinke Will Get 
Community their Life-Saving Road.'' Updated December 23, 2016. http:// -
F5F12E4E7205&DE=03B2B87B-ECDB-4CDB -9183-D464FFFB6040&Type=BPR.

                            COMMITTEE ACTION

    H.R. 218 was introduced on January 3, 2017, by Congressman 
Don Young (R-AK). The bill was referred to the Committee on 
Natural Resources, and within the Committee to the Subcommittee 
on Federal Lands. On April 5, 2017, the Subcommittee held a 
hearing on the bill. On June 22, 2017, the Natural Resources 
Committee met to consider the bill. The Subcommittee was 
discharged by unanimous consent. Congressman Raul M. Grijalva 
(D-AZ) offered an amendment designated 2; it was not agreed to 
by voice vote. No further amendments were offered, and the bill 
was ordered favorably reported to the House of Representatives 
on June 27, 2017, by a bipartisan roll call vote of 23 ayes and 
14 nays, as follows:


    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.


    1. Cost of Legislation and 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 following estimate for the 
bill from the Director of the Congressional Budget Office:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                     Washington, DC, July 12, 2017.
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. 218, the King Cove 
Road Land Exchange Act.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Jeff LaFave.
                                                        Keith Hall.

H.R. 218--King Cove Road Land Exchange Act

    H.R. 218 would require the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
to convey, at the request of the State of Alaska, 206 acres of 
federal land in the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge to allow 
for the construction of a road. In exchange, the state would 
convey to the federal government an amount of land up to 43,000 
acres with a total fair market value equal to the value of the 
federal lands the state would receive. CBO expects that the 
total value of the state-owned land identified for exchange 
under the bill (43,000 acres) would exceed the value of the 
federal lands; therefore, we expect that the state would convey 
a portion of that acreage equalize the value of the lands being 
conveyed by the two parties and that no cash would be exchanged 
in the transaction. Because none of the federal lands that 
would be conveyed are expected to generate receipts over the 
next 10 years, CBO estimates that enacting the bill would not 
affect direct spending.
    The federal government would incur certain administrative 
costs associated with the exchange, including surveys and 
appraisals. Because the bill would require the road to be built 
in accordance with an environmental impact statement completed 
in 2013, an updated impact statement would not be required. In 
total, CBO estimates that any costs incurred in implementing 
the legislation would total less than $500,000; that spending 
would be subject to the availability of appropriated funds.
    Because enacting H.R. 218 would not affect direct spending 
or revenue, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply. CBO 
estimates that enacting H.R. 218 would not increase net direct 
spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 
10-year periods beginning in 2028.
    H.R. 218 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 exchange of 
Federal land and non-Federal land in the State of Alaska for 
the construction of a road between King Cove and Cold Bay.

                           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. This bill does not contain any 
directed rule makings.
    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.


    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 to existing 

                            DISSENTING VIEWS

    H.R. 218 authorizes a land exchange between the Department 
of the Interior and the State of Alaska for the purpose of 
building a road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, a 
unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System managed by the Fish 
and Wildlife Service (FWS). The bill declares that the land 
exchange is in the public interest and waives all environmental 
review and public participation requirements of the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
    Proponents of this bill claim it is necessary to build a 
road through the refuge, including the congressionally 
designated Izembek wilderness, to address the transportation 
needs of King Cove, a town of approximately 1000 people.
    However, this is not the first time Congress has considered 
or even approved this land exchange. The Omnibus Public Land 
Management Act of 2009 (PL 111-11) directed the Secretary of 
the Interior to analyze the land exchange and proposed road 
corridor by going through the NEPA process to determine if the 
land exchange is in the ``public interest.'' After a 
transparent four-year review, FWS published the Izembek 
National Wildlife Refuge Land Exchange/Road Corridor Final 
Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) on February 5, 2013. 
Citing irreparable damage to ecological resources and the 
availability of alternative transportation options, FWS 
determined that development of a road within the 
congressionally designated wilderness is not compatible with 
management protocols of the refuge and chose the ``No Action 
    During the development of the FEIS, the agency held over 
130 meetings and analyzed thousands of public comments--70,111 
of the 71,960 public comments analyzed by FWS during this 
process were opposed to construction of the road.\1\
    \1\``Izembek National Wildlife Refuge Land Exchange Road Corridor 
EIS--Izembek--U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,'' https://
    The FEIS is not the first government analysis of the 
proposed road. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers published a 
report in 2015 outlining ``non-road alternatives'' for 
transportation between King Cove and Cold Bay. That report 
determined that suitable options exist, including an ice-
capable marine vessel, construction of a new airport and the 
addition of a heliport.\2\ As early as 1996, FWS advised 
against construction of the road, citing both the potential 
damage to refuge resources and the availability of alternative 
transportation options. Construction of the road has been 
exhaustively evaluated by numerous federal agencies and each 
evaluation has concluded that the road would do irreparable 
damage to the ecological resources of the refuge.
    \2\``King Cove-Cold Bay: Assessment of Non-Road Alternatives,'' 
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. June 18, 2015 https:// -
    Building a road through the middle of congressionally 
designated wilderness is without precedent and unwarranted. 
Increased human and mechanical presence from the construction 
and ongoing use of the road will erode the wilderness values of 
the area and do lasting ecological damage to the unique, 
undisturbed wildlife habitat. For the reasons outlined above, 
we oppose the bill.

                                   Raul M. Grijalva,
                                           Ranking Member, House 
                                               Natural Resources 
                                   Colleen Hanabusa,
                                           Ranking Member, Subcommittee 
                                               on Federal Lands.
                                   Grace F. Napolitano,
                                           Member of Congress.
                                   Jared Huffman,
                                           Ranking Member, Subcommittee 
                                               on Water, Power and 
                                   Donald S. Beyer, Jr.,
                                           Member of Congress.
                                   Nanette Diaz Barragan,
                                           Member of Congress.
                                   Darren Soto,
                                           Member of Congress.
                                   A. Donald McEachin,
                                           Ranking Member, Subcommittee 
                                               on Oversight and