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115th Congress     }                                 {       Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session       }                                 {        115-287
======================================================================
 
           SUPERIOR NATIONAL FOREST LAND EXCHANGE ACT OF 2017

                                _______
                                

 September 5, 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. 3115]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Natural Resources, to whom was referred 
the bill (H.R. 3115) to provide for a land exchange involving 
Federal land in the Superior National Forest in Minnesota 
acquired by the Secretary of Agriculture through the Weeks Law, 
and for other purposes, having considered the same, report 
favorably thereon with an amendment and recommend that the bill 
as amended do pass.
    The amendment is as follows:
  Strike all after the enacting clause and insert the 
following:

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; TABLE OF CONTENTS.

  (a) Short Title.--This Act may be cited as the ``Superior National 
Forest Land Exchange Act of 2017''.
  (b) Table of Contents.--The table of contents for this Act is as 
follows:

Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.
Sec. 2. Purpose and need for NorthMet Land Exchange.
Sec. 3. Definitions.
Sec. 4. NorthMet Land Exchange.
Sec. 5. Valuation of NorthMet Land Exchange.
Sec. 6. Maps and legal descriptions.
Sec. 7. Post-exchange land management.
Sec. 8. Miscellaneous provisions.

SEC. 2. PURPOSE AND NEED FOR NORTHMET LAND EXCHANGE.

  (a) Purpose.--It is the purpose of this Act to further the public 
interest by consummating the NorthMet Land Exchange as specifically set 
forth in this Act.
  (b) Need.--According to the Final Record of Decision, the NorthMet 
Land Exchange is advisable and needed because the NorthMet Land 
Exchange will--
          (1) result in a 40-acre net gain in National Forest System 
        lands;
          (2) improve the spatial arrangement of National Forest System 
        lands by reducing the amount of ownership boundaries to be 
        managed by 33 miles;
          (3) improve management effectiveness by exchanging isolated 
        Federal lands with no public overland access for non-Federal 
        lands that will have public overland access and be accessible 
        and open to public use and enjoyment;
          (4) result in Federal cost savings by eliminating certain 
        easements and their associated administration costs;
          (5) meet several of the priorities identified in the land and 
        resource management plan for Superior National Forest to 
        protect and manage administratively or congressionally 
        designated, unique, proposed, or recommended areas, including 
        acquisition of 307 acres of land to the administratively 
        proposed candidate Research Natural Areas, which are managed by 
        preserving and maintaining areas for ecological research, 
        observation, genetic conservation, monitoring, and educational 
        activities;
          (6) promote more effective land management that would meet 
        specific National Forest needs for management, including 
        acquisition of over 6,500 acres of land for new public access, 
        watershed protection, ecologically rare habitats, wetlands, 
        water frontage, and improved ownership patterns;
          (7) convey Federal land generally not needed for other Forest 
        resource management objectives, because such land is adjacent 
        to intensively developed private land including ferrous mining 
        areas, where abundant mining infrastructure and transportation 
        are already in place, including--
                  (A) a large, intensively developed open pit mine 
                lying directly to the north of the Federal land;
                  (B) a private mine railroad, powerlines, and roads 
                lying directly to the south of the Federal land; and
                  (C) already existing ore processing, milling, and 
                tailings facilities located approximately 5 miles to 
                the west of the Federal land; and
          (8) provide a practical resolution to complex issues 
        pertaining to the development of private mineral rights 
        underlying the Federal land surface, and thereby avoid 
        potential litigation which could adversely impact the status 
        and management of the Federal land and other National Forest 
        System land acquired under the authority of section 6 of the 
        Act of March 1, 1911 (commonly known as the Weeks Law; 16 
        U.S.C. 515).

SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.

  In this Act:
          (1) Collection agreements.--The term ``Collection 
        Agreements'' means the following agreements between the 
        Secretary and Poly Met pertaining to the NorthMet Land 
        Exchange:
                  (A) The agreement dated August 25, 2015.
                  (B) The agreement dated January 15, 2016.
          (2) Federal land parcel.--The term ``Federal land parcel'' 
        means all right, title, and interest of the United States in 
        and to approximately 6,650 acres of National Forest System 
        land, as identified in the Final Record of Decision, within the 
        Superior National Forest in St. Louis County, Minnesota, as 
        generally depicted on the map entitled ``Federal Land Parcel-
        NorthMet Land Exchange'', and dated June 2017.
          (3) Non-federal land.--The term ``non-Federal land'' means 
        all right, title, and interest of Poly Met in and to 
        approximately 6,690 acres of land in four separate tracts 
        (comprising 10 separate land parcels in total) within the 
        Superior National Forest to be conveyed to the United States by 
        Poly Met in the land exchange as generally depicted on an 
        overview map entitled ``Non-Federal Land Parcels-NorthMet Land 
        Exchange'' and dated June 2017, and further depicted on 
        separate tract maps as follows:
                  (A) Tract 1.--Approximately 4,650 acres of land in 
                St. Louis County, Minnesota, generally depicted on the 
                map entitled ``Non-Federal Land Parcels-NorthMet Land 
                Exchange-Hay Lake Tract'', and dated June 2017.
                  (B) Tract 2.--Approximately 320 acres of land in 4 
                separate parcels in Lake County, Minnesota, generally 
                depicted on the map entitled ``Non-Federal Land 
                Parcels-NorthMet Land Exchange-Lake County Lands'', and 
                dated June 2017.
                  (C) Tract 3.--Approximately 1,560 acres of land in 4 
                separate parcels in Lake County, Minnesota, generally 
                depicted on the map entitled ``Non-Federal Land 
                Parcels-NorthMet Land Exchange-Wolf Lands'', and dated 
                June 2017.
                  (D) Tract 4.--Approximately 160 acres of land in St. 
                Louis County, Minnesota, generally depicted on the map 
                entitled ``Non-Federal Land Parcel-NorthMet Land 
                Exchange-Hunting Club Lands'', dated June 2017.
          (4) Northmet land exchange.--The term ``NorthMet Land 
        Exchange'' means the land exchange specifically authorized and 
        directed by section 4 of this Act.
          (5) Poly met.--The term ``Poly Met'' means Poly Met Mining 
        Corporation, Inc., a Minnesota Corporation with executive 
        offices in St. Paul, Minnesota, and headquarters in Hoyt Lakes, 
        Minnesota.
          (6) Record of decision.--The term ``Record of Decision'' 
        means the Final Record of Decision of the Forest Service issued 
        on January 9, 2017, approving the NorthMet Land exchange 
        between the United States and PolyMet Mining, Inc., a Minnesota 
        Corporation, involving National Forest System land in the 
        Superior National Forest in Minnesota.
          (7) Secretary.--The term ``Secretary'' means the Secretary of 
        Agriculture.
          (8) State.--The term ``State'' means the State of Minnesota.

SEC. 4. NORTHMET LAND EXCHANGE.

  (a) Exchange Authorized and Directed.--
          (1) In general.--Subject to section 5(c)(1) and other 
        conditions imposed by this Act, if Poly Met offers to convey to 
        the United States all right, title, and interest of Poly Met in 
        and to the non-Federal land, the Secretary shall accept the 
        offer and convey to Poly Met all right, title, and interest of 
        the United States in and to the Federal land parcel.
          (2) Land exchange expedited.--Subject to the conditions 
        imposed by this Act, the NorthMet Land Exchange directed by 
        this Act shall be consummated not later than 90 days after the 
        date of enactment of this Act.
  (b) Form of Conveyance.--
          (1) Non-federal land.--Title to the non-Federal land conveyed 
        by Poly Met to the United States shall be by general warranty 
        deed subject to existing rights of record, and otherwise 
        conform to the title approval regulations of the Attorney 
        General of the United States.
          (2) Federal land parcel.--The Federal land parcel shall be 
        quitclaimed by the Secretary to Poly Met by an exchange deed.
  (c) Exchange Costs.--
          (1) Reimbursement required.--Poly Met shall pay or reimburse 
        the Secretary, either directly or through the Collection 
        Agreements, for all land survey, appraisal, land title, deed 
        preparation, and other costs incurred by the Secretary in 
        processing and consummating the NorthMet Land Exchange. The 
        Collection Agreements, as in effect on the date of the 
        enactment of this Act, may be modified through the mutual 
        consent of the parties.
          (2) Deposit of funds.--All funds paid or reimbursed to the 
        Secretary under paragraph (1)--
                  (A) shall be deposited and credited to the accounts 
                in accordance with the Collection Agreements;
                  (B) shall be used for the purposes specified for the 
                accounts; and
                  (C) shall remain available to the Secretary until 
                expended without further appropriation.
  (d) Conditions on Land Exchange.--
          (1) Reservation of certain mineral rights.--Notwithstanding 
        subsection (a), the United States shall reserve the mineral 
        rights on approximately 181 acres of the Federal land parcel as 
        generally identified on the map entitled ``Federal Land Parcel-
        NorthMet Land Exchange'', and dated June 2017.
          (2) Third-party authorizations.--As set forth in the Final 
        Record of Decision, Poly Met shall honor existing road and 
        transmission line authorizations on the Federal land parcel. 
        Upon relinquishment of the authorizations by the holders or 
        upon revocation of the authorizations by the Forest Service, 
        Poly Met shall offer replacement authorizations to the holders 
        on at least equivalent terms.

SEC. 5. VALUATION OF NORTHMET LAND EXCHANGE.

  (a) Appraisals.--The Congress makes the following new findings:
          (1) Appraisals of the Federal and non-Federal lands to be 
        exchanged in the NorthMet Land Exchange were formally prepared 
        in accordance with the Uniform Appraisal Standards for Federal 
        Land Acquisitions, and were approved by the Secretary in 
        conjunction with preparation of the November 2015 Draft Record 
        of Decision on the NorthMet Land Exchange.
          (2) The appraisals referred to in paragraph (1) determined 
        that the value of the non-Federal lands exceeded the value of 
        the Federal land parcel by approximately $425,000.
          (3) Based on the appraisals referred to in paragraph (1), the 
        United States would ordinarily be required to make a $425,000 
        cash equalization payment to Poly Met to equalize exchange 
        values under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 
        (43 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.), unless such an equalization payment 
        is waived by Poly Met.
  (b) Values for Consummation of Land Exchange.--The appraised values 
of the Federal and non-Federal land determined and approved by the 
Secretary in November 2015, and referenced in subsection (a)--
          (1) shall be the values utilized to consummate the NorthMet 
        Land Exchange; and
          (2) shall not be subject to reappraisal.
  (c) Waiver of Equalization Payment.--
          (1) Condition on land exchange.--Notwithstanding section 
        206(b) of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (43 U.S.C. 
        1716(b)), and as part of its offer to exchange the non-Federal 
        lands as provided in section 4(a)(1) of this Act, Poly Met 
        shall waive any payment to it of any monies owed by the United 
        States to equalize land values.
          (2) Treatment of waiver.--A waiver of the equalization 
        payment under paragraph (1) shall be considered as a voluntary 
        donation to the United States by Poly Met for all purposes of 
        law.

SEC. 6. MAPS AND LEGAL DESCRIPTIONS.

  (a) Minor Adjustments.--By mutual agreement, the Secretary and Poly 
Met may correct minor or typographical errors in any map, acreage 
estimate, or description of the Federal land parcel or non-Federal land 
to be exchanged in the NorthMet Land Exchange.
  (b) Conflict.--If there is a conflict between a map, an acreage 
estimate, or a description of land under this Act, the map shall 
control unless the Secretary and Poly Met mutually agree otherwise.
  (c) Exchange Maps.--The maps referred to in section 3 depicting the 
Federal and non-Federal lands to be exchanged in the NorthMet Land 
Exchange, and dated June 2017, depict the identical lands identified in 
the Final Record of Decision, which are on file in the Office of the 
Supervisor, Superior National Forest.

SEC. 7. POST-EXCHANGE LAND MANAGEMENT.

  (a) Non-federal Land.--Upon conveyance of the non-Federal land to the 
United States in the NorthMet Land Exchange, the non-Federal land shall 
become part of the Superior National Forest and be managed in 
accordance with--
          (1) the Act of March 1, 1911 (commonly known as the Weeks 
        Law; 16 U.S.C. 500 et seq.); and
          (2) the laws and regulations applicable to the Superior 
        National Forest and the National Forest System.
  (b) Planning.--Upon acquisition by the United States in the NorthMet 
Land Exchange, the non-Federal lands shall be managed in a manner 
consistent with the land and resource management plan applicable to 
adjacent federally owned lands in the Superior National Forest. An 
amendment or supplement to the land and resource management plan shall 
not be required solely because of the acquisition of the non-Federal 
lands.
  (c) Federal Land.--Upon conveyance of the Federal land parcel to Poly 
Met in the NorthMet Land Exchange, the Federal land parcel shall become 
private land and available for any lawful use in accordance with 
applicable Federal, State, and local laws and regulations pertaining to 
mining and other uses of land in private ownership.

SEC. 8. MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS.

  (a) Withdrawal of Acquired Non-Federal Land.--The non-Federal lands 
acquired by the United States in the NorthMet Land Exchange shall be 
withdrawn, without further action by the Secretary, from appropriation 
and disposal under public land laws and under laws relating to mineral 
and geothermal leasing.
  (b) Withdrawal Revocation.--Any public land order that withdraws the 
Federal land parcel from appropriation or disposal under a public land 
law shall be revoked without further action by the Secretary to the 
extent necessary to permit conveyance of the Federal land parcel to 
Poly Met.
  (c) Withdrawal of Federal Land Pending Conveyance.--The Federal land 
parcel to be conveyed to Poly Met in the NorthMet Land Exchange, if not 
already withdrawn or segregated from appropriation or disposal under 
the mineral leasing and geothermal or other public land laws upon 
enactment of this Act, is hereby so withdrawn, subject to valid 
existing rights, until the date of conveyance of the Federal land 
parcel to Poly Met.
  (d) Act Controls.--In the event any provision of the Record of 
Decision conflicts with a provision of this Act, the provision of this 
Act shall control.

                          PURPOSE OF THE BILL

    The purpose of H.R. 3115 is to provide for a land exchange 
involving Federal land in the Superior National Forest in 
Minnesota acquired by the Secretary of Agriculture through the 
Weeks Law.

                  BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR LEGISLATION

    In 1935, the United States Forest Service (USFS) purchased 
6,650 acres of land under the Weeks Act (36 Stat. 961). The 
private owner of the lands reserved its rights to the 
subsurface minerals, sometimes referred to as the NorthMet ore 
body, underlying those lands when the USFS purchased the 
surface rights for National Forest purposes. Today, PolyMet 
controls the mineral rights to the NorthMet ore body through 
long-term mineral leases. The USFS owns the remainder of the 
property rights, including the surface rights on the lands in 
question. PolyMet proposes to build a surface mine to develop 
its mineral rights.
    The USFS took the position that the mineral rights reserved 
by the private property owner when the lands were conveyed to 
the United States do not include the right to construct a 
surface mine. PolyMet disagrees with the USFS position and 
argues that the mineral rights retained by the private property 
owner provide for access to the minerals by any mining method, 
including surface mining. To eliminate this conflict, the Obama 
Administration proposed a land exchange. Under the agreed-upon 
exchange, PolyMet would receive the 6,650 acres of split estate 
USFS lands and in return would convey to the USFS 6,690 acres 
of non-federal lands within the Superior National Forest. The 
bill waives PolyMet's right to a cash equalization payment that 
would otherwise be owed by the United States to PolyMet to 
equalize the difference in value between the lands transferred 
to PolyMet and to the USFS.
    The land exchange facilitated by H.R. 3115 is modeled after 
the administrative land exchange proposed by the Obama 
Administration that has been under National Environmental 
Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA, 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) analysis 
since 2010. The analysis involved multiple federal agencies as 
well as the State of Minnesota. The results of the NEPA 
analysis were documented in a Final Environmental Impact 
Statement released in November 2015 as well as in a Record of 
Decision issued in January 2017.
    Neither H.R. 3115 nor the land exchange described in the 
Final Record of Decision would by themselves authorize mining 
operations to occur on the lands conveyed to PolyMet. Following 
conveyance of the land, permitting responsibilities for mining 
activities on the parcel would rest primarily with the State of 
Minnesota and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

                            COMMITTEE ACTION

    H.R. 3115 was introduced on June 29, 2017, by Congressman 
Richard M. Nolan (D-MN). The bill was referred to the Committee 
on Natural Resources, and within the Committee to the 
Subcommittee on Federal Lands and the Subcommittee on Energy 
and Mineral Resources. On July 14, 2017, the Subcommittee on 
Federal Lands held a hearing on the bill. On July 25, 2017, the 
Natural Resources Committee met to consider the bill. The two 
Subcommittees were discharged by unanimous consent. Congressman 
Bruce Westerman (R-AR) offered an amendment designated #1; it 
was adopted by voice vote. No further amendments were offered, 
and the bill, as amended, was ordered favorably reported to the 
House of Representatives by a bipartisan roll call vote of 26 
ayes to 10 nays on July 26, 2017, 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 the Congressional Budget Act of 
1974. 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, September 1, 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. 3115, the Superior 
National Forest Land Exchange Act of 2017.
    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. 3115--Superior National Forest Land Exchange Act of 2017

    H.R. 3115 would require the Forest Service to exchange, at 
the request of a private entity, 6,650 acres of federal lands 
in the Superior National Forest for 6,690 acres of private 
lands in that forest. Based on an analysis of information 
provided by the agency, CBO estimates that enacting the 
legislation would have no significant effect on the federal 
budget.
    On January 9, 2017, the Forest Service issued a Final 
Record of Decision approving the land exchange required under 
the bill. CBO expects that, under current law, the land 
exchange would be completing in 2018, the same year we would 
expect it would occur under H.R. 3115. Because enacting the 
legislation would not affect the timing of the land exchange or 
the acreage conveyed, CBO estimates that enacting the bill 
would not affect direct spending.
    Based on information regarding recent appraisals of the two 
parcels, CBO estimates that the value of the nonfederal land 
would exceed the value of the federal land by less than 
$500,000. If the exchange is consummated under current law, the 
Forest Service would be required to use appropriated funds to 
make an equalization payment to the private landowner. Under 
the bill, that requirement would be waived. Because CBO expects 
that the agency would use appropriated funds that would have 
been used to make the equalization to carry out other 
activities, we estimate that implementing the bill also would 
have no significant effect on spending subject to 
appropriation.
    Enacting the bill would not affect direct pending or 
revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply. CBO 
estimates that enacting the legislation would not increase net 
direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four 
consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2028.
    H.R. 3115 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, 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 a land exchange 
involving Federal land in the Superior National Forest in 
Minnesota acquired by the Secretary of Agriculture through the 
Weeks Law.

                           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.

                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 to existing 
law.

                            DISSENTING VIEWS

    H.R. 3115 ratifies the Forest Service decision to execute a 
land exchange in the Superior National Forest with the PolyMet 
Mining Company.
    Polymet's plans to develop the first open pit copper mine 
in the State of Minnesota are controversial. Open pit copper 
mining is a highly toxic procedure that disturbs the surface 
and threatens ground water and other critical resources.
    Ahead of the hearing on this bill, the committee received 
letters from concerned Minnesotans, including the Minnesota 
Environmental Partnership, the Minnesota Center for 
Environmental Advocacy and the Fon du Lac Band of Lake Superior 
Chippewa, a federally-recognized tribe whose reservation is 
downstream from the proposed mine. The area to be exchanged is 
part of the tribe's ancestral homeland and they have concerns 
that the conveyance could impact their retained rights to hunt, 
fish and gather. Federal ownership, which is threatened by this 
exchange, protects these rights.
    Furthermore, since the Forest Service's approval of the 
exchange, several lawsuits have been filed to challenge the 
decision. We should think twice about rubber stamping this 
exchange while there is active litigation. Our system of 
government is set up to allow concerned citizens to challenge 
government decisions through the judicial branch. Access to 
courts is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution. 
This bill takes away that right, something that should make us 
all more than a little concerned.
    The mining company has not secured any of the state or 
federal permits necessary to move forward with the mine. 
Congress should not expedite a federal land transfer that is 
being reviewed by the judicial branch for a mine that has not 
secured the necessary permits. For these reasons, we oppose 
H.R. 3115.

                                   Raul M. Grijalva,
                                           Ranking Member, Committee on 
                                               Natural Resources.
                                   Nanette Diaz Barragan.
                                   Grace F. Napolitano.

                                  [all]