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                                                       Calendar No. 710
                                                       
115th Congress   }                                           {    Report
                                 SENATE
 2d Session      }                                           {   115-451

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



 
         ALASKA NATIVE VIETNAM ERA VETERANS LAND ALLOTMENT ACT

                                _______
                                

               December 20, 2018.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

  Ms. Murkowski, from the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                             together with

                            ADDITIONAL VIEWS

                         [To accompany S. 785]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was 
referred the bill (S. 785) to amend the Alaska Native Claims 
Settlement Act to provide for equitable allotment of land to 
Alaska Native veterans, having considered the same, reports 
favorably thereon with an amendment in the nature of a 
substitute and an amendment to the title and recommends that 
the bill, as amended, do pass.
    The amendments are as follows:
    1. Strike all after the enacting clause and insert the 
following:

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Alaska Native Vietnam Era Veterans 
Land Allotment Act''.

SEC. 2. PURPOSE.

    The purpose of this Act is to provide an opportunity for certain 
Alaska Native Vietnam era veterans to select and receive an allotment 
of Federal land in the State of Alaska.

SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.

    In this Act:
          (1) Available federal land.--
                  (A) In general.--The term ``available Federal land'' 
                means Federal land in the State that--
                          (i) is vacant, unappropriated, and 
                        unreserved;
                          (ii) has been selected by, but not yet 
                        conveyed to--
                                  (I) the State, if the State agrees to 
                                voluntarily relinquish the selection of 
                                the Federal land for selection by an 
                                eligible individual; or
                                  (II) a Regional Corporation or a 
                                Village Corporation, if the Regional 
                                Corporation or Village Corporation 
                                agrees to voluntarily relinquish the 
                                selection of the Federal land for 
                                selection by an eligible individual; or
                          (iii) is identified as available for 
                        selection under section 4(d)(1).
                  (B) Exclusions.--The term ``available Federal land'' 
                does not include any Federal land in the State that 
                is--
                          (i)(I) a right-of-way of the TransAlaska 
                        Pipeline; or
                          (II) an inner or outer corridor of such a 
                        right-of-way;
                          (ii) withdrawn or acquired for purposes of 
                        the Armed Forces;
                          (iii) under review for a pending right-of-way 
                        for a natural gas corridor;
                          (iv) within the Arctic National Wildlife 
                        Refuge;
                          (v) within a unit of the National Forest 
                        System; or
                          (vi) within a unit of the National Park 
                        System, a National Preserve, or a National 
                        Monument.
          (2) Eligible individual.--The term ``eligible individual'' 
        means an individual who, as determined by the Secretary in 
        accordance with section 4(a)--
                  (A) is--
                          (i) a Native veteran who served during the 
                        period between August 5, 1964, and December 31, 
                        1971; or
                          (ii) a personal representative, acting for 
                        the benefit of the heirs, of the estate of a 
                        deceased Native veteran who served during the 
                        period between August 5, 1964, and December 31, 
                        1971; and
                  (B) has received fewer than 157.5 acres pursuant to--
                          (i) the Act of May 17, 1906 (34 Stat. 197, 
                        chapter 2469) (as in effect on December 17, 
                        1971); and
                          (ii) section 41 of the Alaska Native Claims 
                        Settlement Act (43 U.S.C. 1629g).
          (3) Native; regional corporation; village corporation.--The 
        terms ``Native'', ``Regional Corporation'', and ``Village 
        Corporation'' have the meanings given those terms in section 3 
        of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (43 U.S.C. 1602).
          (4) Secretary.--The term ``Secretary'' means the Secretary of 
        the Interior.
          (5) State.--The term ``State'' means the State of Alaska.
          (6) Veteran.--The term ``veteran'' has the meaning given the 
        term in section 101 of title 38, United States Code.

SEC. 4. ALLOTMENTS FOR CERTAIN NATIVE VETERANS.

    (a) Information To Determine Eligibility.--
          (1) In general.--Not later than 180 days after the date of 
        enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Defense, in 
        coordination with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, shall 
        provide to the Secretary a list of all members of the Armed 
        Forces who served during the period between August 5, 1964, and 
        December 31, 1971.
          (2) Use.--The Secretary shall use the information provided 
        under paragraph (1) to determine whether an individual meets 
        the military service requirements under section 3(2)(A).
          (3) Outreach and assistance.--The Secretary, in coordination 
        with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, shall conduct outreach, 
        and provide assistance in applying for allotments, to eligible 
        individuals.
    (b) Selection by Eligible Individuals.--
          (1) In general.--An eligible individual--
                  (A) subject to paragraphs (2) and (3), may select not 
                more than 2 parcels of available Federal land totaling 
                not more than 160 acres; and
                  (B) on making a selection pursuant to subparagraph 
                (A), shall submit to the Secretary an allotment 
                selection application for the applicable parcels of 
                available Federal land.
          (2) Minimum acreage.--A parcel of available Federal land 
        selected pursuant to paragraph (1)(A) shall be not less than 
        2.5 acres.
          (3) Treatment of certain acres.--The following acres held by 
        an eligible individual shall be counted toward the 160-acre 
        limitation under paragraph (1)(A):
                  (A) Any acres received pursuant to the Act of May 17, 
                1906 (34 Stat. 197, chapter 2469) (as in effect on 
                December 17, 1971).
                  (B) Any acres received pursuant to section 41 of the 
                Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (43 U.S.C. 1629g).
    (c) Conflicting Selections.--If 2 or more eligible individuals 
submit to the Secretary an allotment selection application under 
subsection (b)(1)(B) for the same parcel of available Federal land, the 
Secretary shall--
          (1) give preference to the selection application received on 
        the earliest date; and
          (2) provide to each eligible individual the selection 
        application of whom is rejected under paragraph (1) an 
        opportunity to select a substitute parcel of available Federal 
        land.
    (d) Identification of Available Federal Land for Allotment 
Selection.--
          (1) In general.--Not later than 2 years after the date of 
        enactment of this Act, subject to paragraphs (2) and (3), the 
        Secretary, in consultation with the State, Regional 
        Corporations, and Village Corporations, shall identify not more 
        than 500,000 acres of Federal land as available Federal land 
        for allotment selection to meet the purpose of this Act.
          (2) Limitation on wildlife refuge acreage.--
                  (A) Yukon delta national wildlife refuge acreage.--Of 
                the available Federal land identified under paragraph 
                (1), not more than 42,000 acres shall be located in the 
                Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge.
                  (B) Togiak national wildlife refuge acreage.--Of the 
                available Federal land identified under paragraph (1), 
                not more than 10,000 acres shall be located in the 
                Togiak National Wildlife Refuge.
          (3) Certification; survey.--The Secretary shall--
                  (A) certify that the available Federal land 
                identified under paragraph (1) is free of known 
                contamination; and
                  (B) survey the available Federal land under paragraph 
                (1) into aliquot parts and lots, segregating all 
                navigable and meanderable waters and land not available 
                for allotment selection.
          (4) Maps.--As soon as practicable after the date on which 
        available Federal land is identified under paragraph (1), the 
        Secretary shall submit to Congress, and publish in the Federal 
        Register, 1 or more maps depicting the identified available 
        Federal land.
    (e) Conveyances.--Any available Federal land conveyed to an 
eligible individual under this section shall be subject to--
          (1) valid existing rights;
          (2) the reservation of minerals to the United States; and
          (3) if the available Federal land conveyed is within the 
        boundaries of a unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System, 
        the laws (including regulations) applicable to the use and 
        development of the unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System.
    (f) Intent of Congress.--It is the intent of Congress that not 
later than 2 years after the date on which an eligible individual 
submits an allotment selection application under subsection (b)(1)(B) 
that meets the requirements of this Act, as determined by the 
Secretary, the Secretary shall issue to the eligible individual a 
certificate of allotment with respect to the available Federal land 
covered by the allotment selection application, subject to the 
requirements of subsection (e).

    2. Amend the title so as to read: ``A bill to provide an 
opportunity for certain Alaska Native Vietnam era veterans to 
select and receive an allotment of Federal land in the State of 
Alaska.''.

                                PURPOSE

    The purpose of S. 785, as ordered reported, is to provide 
an opportunity for certain Alaska Native Vietnam-era veterans 
to select and receive an allotment of Federal land in the State 
of Alaska.

                          BACKGROUND AND NEED

    In 1887, Congress passed the General Allotment Act (25 
U.S.C. 331) to allow Native Americans to apply for an allotment 
of land, not to exceed 160 acres. It was unclear if Alaska 
Natives were able to apply for an allotment under that Act, so 
in 1906, Congress passed the Alaska Native Allotment Act (1906 
Act, Public Law 59-171) to ensure that the indigenous peoples 
of Alaska were also able to select an allotment of land. The 
1906 Act gave the Secretary of the Interior discretion, under 
rules as he may prescribe, to allot to any Alaska Native who 
was at least 21 years old up to 160 acres of non-mineral, 
Federal land in Alaska, to remain with them and their heirs in 
perpetuity. The purpose of the Act was to enable Alaska Natives 
to legally own the lands they had used and occupied for 
generations. The rules adopted by the Secretary provided that 
allotments would not be made on lands reserved by the United 
States unless the claimant used and occupied them prior to the 
reservation.
    In 1956, Congress amended the 1906 Act (1956 amendments, 
Public Law 84-931) to require applicants to prove substantial 
use and occupancy of a parcel of land for at least five years 
in order for an allotment to be conveyed to them. The 1956 
amendments clarified that the land needed to be ``vacant, 
unappropriated, and unreserved.'' The 1956 amendments further 
allowed an allotment to be conveyed in a national forest, 
provided that an applicant was able to prove use and occupancy 
prior to the forest being withdrawn, or if the Secretary of 
Agriculture determined that the land was ``chiefly valuable to 
agriculture or grazing purposes.''
    In 1971, Congress passed the Alaska Native Claims 
Settlement Act (ANCSA, Public Law 92-203) to resolve all 
outstanding aboriginal land claims. Section 18(a) of ANCSA 
repealed the 1906 Act. Leading up to the repeal of the 1906 
Act, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and local partners conducted 
outreach to encourage eligible Alaska Natives to apply for an 
allotment of land. According to the Department of the Interior 
(DOI), that effort resulted in over 10,000 individual 
applicants for an allotment, which quadrupled the number of 
applicants in just two years.
    That time period coincided with the beginning of the 
Vietnam War. Many Alaska Natives were enlisted and served 
abroad during the war. Due to their service, they were unable 
to be physically present in Alaska to submit an application, 
and many were unaware of the opportunity to apply.
    Congress recognized this inequity in 1998 and enacted 
legislation (1998 Act, section 432 of Public Law 105-276) to 
reopen the 1906 Act for a limited time and with a narrow scope. 
The 1998 Act allowed Alaska Natives, or their heirs, who were 
eligible under the 1906 Act and who served at least six months 
between January 1, 1969 and June 2, 1971, or were enlisted or 
drafted before December 17, 1971, to apply for an allotment of 
land. Further, allotments could only be selected from vacant, 
unappropriated, and unreserved Federal land, and selections 
were prohibited from wilderness lands, units of a National 
Forest, and land withdrawn for military purposes.
    DOI promulgated regulations (43 C.F.R. 2568) to set up a 
system to convey allotments to Alaska Native Vietnam veterans. 
Pursuant to these regulations, if an individual could prove use 
and occupancy on land that was not available for selection 
because it was deemed inconsistent with the permitted uses of a 
given conservation system unit, that individual could make a 
selection elsewhere in the State without proving use and 
occupancy.
    According to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the 1998 
Act allowed 255 allotments to be conveyed, for a 25 percent 
approval rate--much lower than the 80 percent approval rate 
under the 1906 Act. The 1998 Act's low success can be 
attributed to a number of factors, including limitations on 
available land and proof of military service.
    Congress has amended the 1998 Act twice to address these 
issues. In 2000, Congress expanded the eligible period of 
service to December 31, 1971, and clarified the role of a 
personal representative (section 301 of Public Law 106-559). 
Also, in 2004, Congress clarified how an eligible individual 
can prove their military service (section 306 of Public Law 
108-452).
    Despite these efforts, an estimated 2,800 Native Alaskans 
who served in the Vietnam War have yet to receive their 
allotment. S. 785 seeks to address the 1998 Act's shortcomings 
by establishing a separate program to provide another 
opportunity for those individuals to apply for an allotment of 
land. S. 785 clarifies eligible land available for selection, 
directs BLM to identify available land before the selection 
process begins, and directs the Departments of Defense (DoD) 
and Veterans Affairs (VA) to certify military service and 
conduct outreach to Native veterans.

                          LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

    S. 785 was introduced by Senators Sullivan and Murkowski on 
March 30, 2017. The Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and 
Mining held a hearing on S. 785 on July 26, 2017. The text of 
S. 785 was also included as section 11 of S. 1481, the ANCSA 
Improvement Act, which was introduced by Senators Murkowski and 
Sullivan on June 29, 2017.
    Companion legislation, H.R. 1867, was introduced in the 
House of Representatives by Representative Young on April 3, 
2017, and referred to the Natural Resources Committee.
    In the 114th Congress, similar legislation, S. 1955, was 
introduced by Senators Sullivan and Murkowski on August 8, 
2015. The Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining 
held a hearing to consider S. 1955 on October 8, 2015 (S. Hrg. 
114-490). The text of S. 1955 was also included as section 11 
of S. 3273, the ANCSA Improvement Act, which was introduced by 
Senators Murkowski and Sullivan on July 14, 2016.
    Companion legislation, H.R. 2387, was introduced by 
Representative Young in the House of Representatives on May 15, 
2015. The Natural Resources Committee's Subcommittee on Indian, 
Insular, and Alaska Native Affairs held a hearing to consider 
H.R. 2387 on June 6, 2015. The Natural Resources Committee 
ordered the bill favorably reported, as amended, by voice vote 
on September 22, 2016 (H. Rept. 114-832).
    The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources met in 
open business session on October 2, 2018, and ordered S. 785 
favorably reported, as amended.

                        COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATION

    The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in 
open business session on October 2, 2018, by a majority voice 
vote of a quorum present, recommends that the Senate pass S. 
785, if amended as described herein. Senator Wyden asked to be 
recorded as voting no.

                          COMMITTEE AMENDMENTS

    During its consideration of S. 785, the Committee adopted 
an amendment in the nature of a substitute and an amendment to 
the title. The substitute amendment creates a new program, 
rather than amending the 1998 Act and addresses a number of 
issues, including eligible land, eligible person, outreach, the 
selection process, the identification of land, and conveyances. 
The title amendment reflects changes made by the substitute 
amendment.
    With regard to eligible land, the substitute amendment 
authorizes selections in ``vacant, unappropriated, and 
unreserved'' Federal lands. Notwithstanding the exclusion of 
lands reserved by the United States in section 3(1)(A)(i) of 
the substitute, the substitute amendment permits the Secretary 
to include lands in National Wildlife Refuges in the 500,000 
acres of Federal land available for allotment selection under 
section 4(d). Land that is not available for selection include 
land in the Tongass and Chugach National Forests; the Arctic 
National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR); the National Petroleum 
Reserve-Alaska; the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) right-
of-way (ROW); that has been withdrawn for defense purposes; is 
proposed for the Alaska LNG pipeline ROW; and that is within a 
unit of the National Park System or a National Monument.
    The substitute amendment defines an ``eligible person'' to 
be an Alaska Native veteran who was not dishonorably 
discharged, and served in Vietnam for any period of time 
beginning at the start of the war in 1964, up through December 
31, 1971. If an eligible person is deceased and has not 
received an allotment, an heir is authorized to receive the 
land.
    The substitute amendment directs DoD to provide DOI with a 
list of individuals who served in the Vietnam War and directs 
DoD and the VA to reach out to veterans in Alaska to make them 
aware of the opportunity to select an allotment of land.
    The substitute amendment authorizes an eligible person to 
select up to two parcels of land, not totaling more than 160 
acres, and requires the eligible person to submit an 
application to the BLM. If more than one application is 
submitted for a single parcel of land, preference is given to 
the application that was received on the earliest date.
    The substitute amendment directs the BLM, Alaska Native 
Corporations (ANCs), and the State to jointly identify up to 
500,000 acres of land that are available for selection and free 
from contamination. An eligible person is not required to apply 
for land that has been identified as available for selection, 
so the option to apply for other land is preserved. The text 
requires that up to 42,000 acres of land be identified in the 
Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge and up to 10,000 acres of 
land be identified in the Togiak National Wildlife Refuge.
    The substitute amendment further reserves all minerals to 
the Federal government and makes clear that the intent of 
Congress is for a conveyance to be made within two years of an 
application being submitted, provided that the individual meets 
all eligibility criteria.

                      SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS

Section 1. Short title

    Section 1 provides a short title.

Section 2. Purpose

    Section 2 specifies the bill's purpose.

Section 3. Definitions

    Section 3 defines key terms.

Section 4. Allotments for certain native veterans

    Subsection (a) directs the Secretary of Defense, in 
coordination with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, to provide 
the Secretary of the Interior (Secretary) with a list of 
individuals who served between August 5, 1964, and December 31, 
1971 and directs the Secretary to use that list to determine 
whether military service requirements have been met by an 
individual. This subsection also directs the Secretaries of the 
Interior and Veterans Affairs to conduct outreach to eligible 
individuals and provide assistance in applying for allotments.
    Subsection (b) authorizes eligible individuals to select up 
to two parcels of available Federal land, totaling not more 
than 160 acres. This subsection also directs an eligible 
individual to submit an allotment selection application to the 
Secretary, establishes a 2.5 acre minimum for land parcel 
selections, and specifies the treatment of certain acres.
    Subsection (c) directs the Secretary, in the event of 
conflicting allotment selections, to give preference to the 
application received on the earliest date and to provide each 
eligible individual with a resulting rejected application, with 
the opportunity to select a substitute parcel of Federal land.
    Subsection (d) directs the Secretary, in consultation with 
the State of Alaska and ANCs, to identify up to 500,000 acres 
of available Federal land, and requires the Secretary to 
certify that the land is free of contamination. The subsection 
further requires that of the 500,000 acres of available Federal 
land, up to 42,000 acres be identified in the Yukon Delta 
National Wildlife Refuge and up to 10,000 acres of land be 
identified in the Togiak National Wildlife Refuge. The 
subsection also directs the Secretary to submit one or more 
maps depicting the available Federal land for selection and to 
publish such maps in the Federal Register.
    Subsection (e) makes clear that the conveyances of Federal 
land are subject to valid existing rights, the reservation of 
minerals by the Federal government, and, for allotments in 
National Wildlife Refuges, applicable laws and regulations.
    Subsection (f) states the intent of Congress that if an 
application meets the eligibility criteria, a conveyance be 
made within two years of an application being submitted to the 
Secretary.

                   COST AND BUDGETARY CONSIDERATIONS

    The following estimate of the costs of this measure has 
been provided by the Congressional Budget Office:
    S. 785 would provide certain Alaska Native veterans or 
their heirs the opportunity to apply for allotments of land in 
Alaska. CBO estimates that implementing S. 785 would cost $11 
million over the 2019-2023 period, assuming appropriation of 
the necessary amounts.
    Enacting the bill would not affect direct spending or 
revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply. CBO 
estimates that enacting S. 785 would not increase net direct 
spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 
10-year periods beginning in 2029.
    S. 785 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA).
    Estimated cost to the Federal Government: The estimated 
budgetary effect of S. 785 is shown in the following table. The 
costs of the legislation fall within budget function 450 
(community and regional development).

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                               By fiscal year, in millions of dollars--
                                                    ------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                          2019-
                                                        2019      2020      2021      2022      2023      2023
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                 INCREASES IN SPENDING SUBJECT TO APPROPRIATION
 
Estimated Authorization Level......................         1         2         3         3         4         13
Estimated Outlays..................................         *         2         3         3         3         11
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* = between zero and $500,000.

    Basis of estimate: For this estimate, CBO assumes that S. 
785 will be enacted near the end of 2018 and that the necessary 
amounts will be appropriated for each year beginning in 2019. 
Estimated outlays are based on historical spending patterns for 
administering similar land allotments. S. 785 would authorize 
the Department of the Interior (DOI) to grant allotments of up 
to 160 acres each from certain vacant, federally owned land in 
Alaska to Alaska Natives who served in the armed forces between 
August 5, 1964, and December 31, 1971, or to their heirs.

Background

    Under the Alaska Native Allotment Act of 1906 (1906 Act), 
DOI was authorized to convey allotments of up to 160 acres of 
vacant land to Alaska Natives. The law required Alaska Natives 
to prove that they had continually used and occupied that 
particular land for a period of at least five years in order to 
receive such an allotment.
    In 1971, the 1906 Act was repealed; in the three years 
before its repeal, DOI and other organizations worked with 
Alaska Natives to ensure eligible people were aware of their 
eligibility for allotments and that those who were interested 
in such allotments submitted applications before the law's 
repeal. However, in the years following that repeal, some 
people became concerned that certain Alaska Natives who served 
in the armed forces during the Vietnam Era (1964 to 1975) would 
not have been able to submit applications for allotments in the 
final years before the 1906 Act was repealed. Subsequently, the 
Alaska Native Veterans Allotment Act of 1998 (1998 Act) was 
enacted to allow those eligible veterans to apply for 
allotments in the same manner as under the 1906 Act. The 
authority to submit such applications expired in February 2002.
    In a 1997 report to the Congress, DOI estimated that about 
1,600 Alaska Native veterans would be eligible to submit 
applications under the 1998 Act. DOI received about 800 
applications, although only about 250 of them met the 1998 
Act's requirements; all others were rejected.

Eligible land

    The land eligible for allotment under S. 785 could not be 
located within a national forest, national park, a national 
preserve, a national monument, or a right-of-way of the 
TransAlaska Pipeline. Under the bill, the federal government 
would retain mineral rights to any land allotted under S. 785 
and eligible people would not be required to have personally 
used the land for which they submit applications.
    The bill also would direct DOI to consult with the state 
and Alaska Native Corporations to identify 500,000 acres of 
federal land to be made available for allotment under S. 785. 
DOI would then be required to review and approve applications 
for allotments of land as they are submitted and to survey the 
land before making the allotments. Using information from DOI, 
CBO expects that DOI would work with the Alaska Native 
Corporations to select land that is close to land owned by the 
corporations and as contiguous as possible. That would 
streamline the required survey and assessment of the selected 
land.
    However, the bill would not restrict eligible people from 
applying for allotments outside of the 500,000 acres of land 
that DOI would be required to set aside. According to DOI, when 
given the option to select multiple allotments, Alaska Natives 
have historically tended to prefer selecting land that is near 
their corporation for their initial allotment and to select 
land in more remote areas for subsequent allotments. The more 
remote allotments tend to be for the purpose of acquiring land 
conducive to hunting and fishing. CBO estimates that about half 
of the land allotted would be outside of the 500,000 acres that 
DOI would set aside.

                          ELIGIBLE APPLICANTS

    Using information from DOI about the number of Alaska 
Native veterans who served between 1964 and 1971 and who did 
not receive allotments under the 1906 Act or the 1998 Act, CBO 
estimates that approximately 1,350 veterans or their heirs 
would be eligible to apply for allotments under S. 785. That 
figure is equal to the approximately 1,600 veterans estimated 
to be eligible in DOI's 1997 report to the Congress, minus the 
250 people who received allotments under the 1998 Act.
    About 50 percent of those eligible applied for allotments 
under the 1998 Act. CBO expects that application rates under S. 
785 would be slightly higher than those under the 1998 Act 
because S. 785 removes the restriction that any land applied 
for must have been personally used by the applicant and directs 
DOI to conduct outreach activities and to provide application 
assistance to eligible people. Therefore, CBO estimates that 
under S. 785 about 70 percent of eligible people (or about 950 
people) would submit applications for allotments totaling about 
150,000 acres of land.

                            ALLOTMENT COSTS

    Using information from DOI, CBO estimates that conferring 
with state officials and Alaska Native Corporations to set 
aside 500,000 acres of land and reviewing applications for and 
surveying about 75,000 acres (half of the 150,000 acres 
expected to be allotted in total under the bill) would cost DOI 
about $2 million over the 2019-2023 period.
    CBO expects that applications for the remaining 75,000 
acres would be for land outside of the land set aside by DOI. 
Using information from DOI, CBO estimates that reviewing 
applications and surveying other noncontiguous land would cost 
DOI about $9 million over the 2019-2023 period and $5 million 
after 2023. The majority of those costs would stem from travel 
to remote areas of Alaska. All such spending would be subject 
to appropriation.
    Uncertainty: CBO aims to produce cost estimates that 
generally reflect the middle of a range of the most likely 
budgetary outcomes that would result if the legislation was 
enacted. The cost to implement S. 785 could be greater or 
smaller than CBO has estimated.
    The number of applicants who would apply for land outside 
of the 500,000 acres set aside by DOI under the bill is 
uncertain and thus the cost of reviewing the applications and 
surveying the land could be different. DOI expects that more 
remote pieces of land would be selected for their proximity to 
hunting and fishing. However, although such remote land would 
be of value to applicants, DOI would probably encourage 
eligible people to apply for land within the set-aside portion. 
If more land is chosen within the set-aside portion, the costs 
would be lower.
    Pay-As-You-Go considerations: None.
    Increase in long-term direct spending and deficits: CBO 
estimates that enacting S. 785 would not increase net direct 
spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 
10-year periods beginning in 2029.
    Mandates: S. 785 contains no intergovernmental or private-
sector mandates as defined in UMRA.
    Estimate prepared by: Federal costs: Robert Reese; 
Mandates: Rachel Austin.
    Estimate reviewed by: Kim P. Cawley, Chief, Natural and 
Physical Resources Cost Estimates Unit; H. Samuel Papenfuss, 
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. 785. The bill 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. 785, as ordered reported.

                   CONGRESSIONALLY DIRECTED SPENDING

    S. 785, 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 Department of the Interior at 
the July 26, 2017, hearing on S. 785 follows:

 Statement of John Ruhs, Acting Deputy Director for Operations, Bureau 
          of Land Management, U.S. Department of the Interior

    Thank you for the opportunity to present the views of the 
Department of the Interior (Department) on S. 785, the Alaska 
Native Veterans Land Allotment Equity Act. S. 785 amends the 
1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) to allow any 
Alaska Native veteran (or heir) who served during the period of 
August 5, 1964, through May 7, 1975, who has not yet received a 
Native allotment under the 1906 Allotment Act, to apply for an 
allotment of up to 160 acres of Federal land.
    The Department supports equitable treatment of Alaska 
Natives and Alaska Native Veterans in the Alaska Land 
Conveyance program. We appreciate the sponsor's continuing 
interest in extending to Vietnam-era Alaska Native Veterans 
opportunities to apply for an individual allotment in 
recognition of their service to our country. The Department 
supports the goals of S. 785 and looks forward to working with 
the sponsor and the Committee to provide technical edits to 
further enhance this legislation and offer timely and efficient 
resolution of longstanding Native allotment processes.
Background
    Several laws govern disposition of lands in Alaska. The 
Alaska Statehood Act and ANCSA provide for conveyance of broad 
swaths of land to the State and to Native Corporations. Land 
transfers to individual Alaska Natives were first authorized by 
the Alaska Native Allotment Act of 1906. The Allotment Act, as 
amended, authorized the Secretary of the Interior to convey up 
to 160 acres of ``vacant, unappropriated, and unreserved non-
mineral'' land to individual Alaska Natives who could prove as 
head of household ``substantially continuous use and occupancy 
of that land for a period of five years.'' Over 10,000 Alaska 
Natives filed allotment applications before 1971.
    ANCSA, enacted in 1971, included a provision repealing the 
1906 Allotment Act but with a savings provision allowing the 
Department to finalize the approximately 15,000 individual 
allotment claims then pending before the Department. In 1981, 
Section 905 of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation 
Act (ANILCA) legislatively approved the vast majority of the 
pending Allotment Act applications.
    As of this date, there remain pending approximately 272 
applications under the 1906 Act, most of which will require the 
State of Alaska to voluntarily re-convey title to the United 
States government before a conveyance can be made to the 
individual allotment claimant. The BLM has prioritized the 
completion of individual allotments, and to date has completed 
final patent to approximately 98 percent (over 13,100 parcels) 
of individual Native allotments.
    Another act authorizing land transfers to individual Alaska 
Natives is the Alaska Native Vietnam Veterans Allotment Act of 
1998 (P. L. 105-276). This Act authorized the Department to 
provide a new 18-month filing period, ending in January 2002, 
to qualifying Alaska Native Vietnam-era veterans who were 
unable to file a claim under the 1906 Allotment Act before its 
repeal in 1971 because they were on active military duty during 
the three years (1968-1971) prior to repeal of the 1906 Act. 
Certificates for 255 allotments have been issued, and seven 
parcels remain pending.
    Members of Congress concerned about the low number of 
Alaska Native Vietnam-era veterans obtaining allotments under 
the 1998 Act identified three obstacles to that goal: (1) 
Alaska Native Vietnam veterans were able to apply only for land 
that had been vacant, unappropriated, and unreserved; (2) the 
eligible service dates did not encompass the full term of 
Vietnam war (1964-1975); and (3) veterans were required to 
prove they had been using the allotment for which they applied 
in a substantially continuous and independent manner for five 
or more years.
    In addition, concerns have been raised that the lack of 
available land nullifies the very purpose of granting Native 
Vietnam-era veterans an allotment benefit. A recurring 
congressional concern has been that there is virtually no land 
available for selection and allotment in southeast Alaska 
because such land is located within the Tongass National Forest 
or conservation units, or has been conveyed to the State of 
Alaska or ANCSA Native Corporations.
S. 785
    S. 785 is intended to address the obstacles in the 1998 Act 
and the lack of land available for selection and allotments. 
The bill authorizes allotment of Federal lands to individual 
Alaska Native veterans of the Vietnam era. It amends ANCSA to 
allow any Alaska Native veteran (or heir) who served during the 
period of August 5, 1964, through May 7, 1975, who has not yet 
received a Native allotment for a full 160 acres under the 1906 
Allotment Act, to apply for an allotment of up to 160 acres of 
Federal land. Lands available for selection under S. 785 are 
any vacant Federal land in the state of Alaska that is located 
outside of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline right-of-way, a unit of 
the National Park System, a National Preserve, or a National 
Monument. Available lands in S. 785 include wildlife refuges, 
national forests, wilderness areas, acquired lands, national 
defense withdrawn lands, and lands selected by, or already 
conveyed to, the State of Alaska or an Alaska Native 
Corporation. The Department would like to work with the sponsor 
to develop criteria for adjudication and for the determination 
of superior rights to lands in these categories.
    S. 785 also authorizes compensatory acreage only for Native 
Corporations that voluntarily relinquish land selected in order 
to make such land available for Alaska Native Veteran 
allotments. There is no similar provision for State selections. 
The bill does not mention compensatory acreage for land re-
conveyed by the State of Alaska. We would like to work with the 
sponsor to develop options to address the goals of this 
legislation while reducing the impact to established land 
patterns and minimizing delays in fulfilling entitlements in 
progress.
    The bill requires the Secretary of the Interior to publish 
implementing regulations, after consultation with Alaska Native 
organizations, within one year of the enactment of S. 785. 
Within five years after the date of enactment, S. 785 requires 
the Secretary to approve and certify allotment applications 
filed under this Act. The legislation further requires the 
Secretary to contact, in coordination with Alaska Native 
organizations, each individual potentially affected by S. 785 
to explain the process by which the person may apply for an 
allotment. The Secretary is also required to contact each 
person or entity that has an interest in land that is 
potentially adverse to the interest of an applicant with notice 
of how to contest the allotment. We would like to work with the 
sponsor to develop a timetable and outreach strategy that 
supports the entire process for Alaska Native Veterans to 
select and receive allotments.
Conclusion
    The highest priority of the BLM's Alaska Land Transfer 
program is to fulfill existing statutory mandates by completing 
title transfer to individual Alaska Natives that includes 
equitable opportunities for Alaska Native Veterans, as well as 
to fulfill remaining entitlements under ANCSA and the Statehood 
Act. We welcome the opportunity to work with the sponsor and 
the Committee to address the technical issues raised in this 
testimony in order to enhance the legislation.
    Thank you for the opportunity to testify. I would be glad 
to address any questions.

                  ADDITIONAL VIEWS OF SENATOR CANTWELL

    The stated purpose of S. 785, as ordered reported by the 
Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, is to give any 
Alaska Native veteran who may have missed the opportunity to 
apply for a Native allotment because the veteran was serving in 
the armed forces in Vietnam another opportunity to apply for 
one now.
    I fully support that goal. Plainly, no Alaska Native who 
was eligible for an allotment should have been deprived of the 
opportunity to apply for one because he or she was serving his 
or her country during the Vietnam War.
    I cannot, however, support creating an entirely new 
allotment program that is broader than the original one and 
would have the effect of opening up our national wildlife 
refuges, national forests, wilderness areas, and the National 
Petroleum Reserve-Alaska to allotment. Congress set aside those 
lands for the benefit of the American people as a whole. They 
should not now be parceled out to state, corporate, and 
individual ownership.
    Unfortunately, S. 785, as originally introduced, would have 
done just that. The original allotment program only provided 
for the allotment of ``vacant, unappropriated, and unreserved'' 
lands in Alaska. Lands that had been reserved for national 
forests were not eligible for allotment unless the Alaska 
Native applying for the allotment could establish personal use 
and occupancy of the land prior to the reservation of the 
national forest. S. 785, as introduced, would have opened up 
appropriated and reserved lands, including national forests, 
national wildlife refuges, and National Petroleum Reserve-
Alaska to allotment, and it did away with the prior personal 
use and occupancy requirement.
    Senator Murkowski's amendment, which the Committee agreed 
to by voice vote, restores the requirement that allotments can 
only be made from ``vacant, unappropriated, and unreserved'' 
lands. In addition, it expressly excludes lands with the Arctic 
National Wildlife Refuge or within any national forest, 
national park, national preserve, or national monument. Her 
amendment goes a long way toward restoring the protections for 
the national interest lands afforded by the original allotment 
program.
    The amendment still falls far short of what is needed, 
however. While the amendment appears to exclude reserved lands 
from allotment in section 3(1)(A)(i), it opens up lands 
reserved for national wildlife refuges, other than the Arctic 
National Wildlife Refuge, in sections 4(d)(2) and 4(e)(3). 
Moreover, unlike the original allotment program, the amendment 
does not apply the prior personal use and occupancy requirement 
to reserved lands. Nor does it exclude designated wilderness 
areas from allotment.
    Ensuring fair treatment of Alaska Natives who served our 
country during the Vietnam War and protecting our national 
interest lands in Alaska are not incompatible. There is no 
reason we cannot give Alaska Native veterans who may have 
missed the original deadline another chance to apply for an 
allotment and still protect our national interest lands. 
Congress has done so before. Section 432 of the Departments of 
Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development, and 
Independent Agencies Appropriations Act, 1999, Public Law 105-
276, provided an ``open season,'' which ran from July 31, 2000 
through January 31, 2002. Under that law, any Alaska Native who 
would have been eligible for an allotment under the original 
allotment program, but missed the filing deadline because he or 
she was serving in the armed forces during the Vietnam War, was 
given a second chance to apply for an allotment under the terms 
of the original allotment program. The previous open season 
expressly excluded wilderness areas, national forests, the 
National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, and all reserved lands, 
including national wildlife refuges.
    I fully support giving any Alaska Native veteran who missed 
the previous open season another chance to apply for an 
allotment, but on the same terms as afforded by the previous 
open season. I cannot support creating a new and different 
allotment program that would open up national wildlife refuges 
and wilderness areas to allotment.

                        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 the bill as ordered 
reported.