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116th Congress    }                                     {       Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 2d Session       }                                     {      116-427


                      SINKHOLE MAPPING ACT OF 2019


  June 4, 2020.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed


 Mr. Grijalva, from the Committee on Natural Resources, submitted the 

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 496]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Natural Resources, to whom was referred 
the bill (H.R. 496) to direct the Director of the United States 
Geological Survey to establish a program to map zones that are 
at greater risk of sinkhole formation, and for other purposes, 
having considered the same, reports favorably thereon without 
amendment and recommends that the bill do pass.

                          PURPOSE OF THE BILL

    The purpose of H.R. 496 is to direct the Director of the 
United States Geological Survey to establish a program to map 
zones that are at greater risk of sinkhole formation, and for 
other purposes.


    Sinkholes are a natural hazard common in areas underlain by 
limestone, a type of rock easily dissolved by water, and 
frequently occur in Florida, Texas, Alabama, Missouri, 
Kentucky, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania.\1\ The United States 
Geological Survey (USGS) estimates that sinkhole damages cost 
on average at least $300 million annually.\2\ However, because 
there is no comprehensive database for sinkholes in the United 
States, there is no reliable data on how many occur each year.
    \1\See generally Compiled by James Hercher, Sinkhole Science Is 
Actually Quite Simple, PBS Newshour: Extra (Apr. 8, 2013), https://
    \2\How Much Does Sinkhole Damage Cost Each Year in the United 
States?, U.S.G.S.,
damage-cost-each-year-united-states (last visited May 7, 2020).
    USGS runs a number of Natural Hazard programs that 
coordinate long-term planning, disaster response, and emergency 
management for coastal and marine hazards, earthquakes, 
landslides, volcanoes, and floods. No program currently exists 
for sinkholes.\3\
    \3\Natural Hazards Programs, U.S.G.S.,
mission-areas/natural-hazards/programs (last visited May 7, 2020).
    In June of 2019, the House of Representatives passed the 
National Landslide Preparedness Act (H.R. 1261), which bolsters 
USGS's current Landslide Hazards Program and authorizes the 
existing national 3D elevation program (3DEP) to update and 
produce standard, publicly accessible 3D elevation data for the 
United States. The 3DEP program would help identify geologic 
and environmental hazards like sinkholes, in addition to 
assessing landslide hazards, but that bill does not create a 
specific sinkholes hazard program.\4\
    \4\See generally H.R. Rep. No. 116-99 (2019), https://
    H.R. 496 creates a program within USGS to study the 
mechanisms that cause sinkholes, map the zones at highest risk 
of sinkhole formation, and build a website displaying the maps 
developed in order to better inform community planners and 
emergency managers.

                            COMMITTEE ACTION

    H.R. 496 was introduced on January 11, 2019, by 
Representative Darren Soto (D-FL). The bill was referred solely 
to the Committee on Natural Resources, and within the Committee 
to the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. On 
September 19, 2019, the Subcommittee held a hearing on the 
bill. On January 15, 2020, the Natural Resources Committee met 
to consider the bill. The Subcommittee was discharged by 
unanimous consent. No amendments were offered, and the bill was 
adopted and ordered favorably reported to the House of 
Representatives by unanimous consent.


    For the purposes of section 103(i) of H. Res. 6 of the 
116th Congress--the following hearing was used to develop or 
consider H.R. 496: legislative hearing by the Subcommittee on 
Energy and Mineral Resources held on September 19, 2019.

                      SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS

Section 1. Short title

    This section provides the short title of the bill, the 
``Sinkhole Mapping Act of 2019.''

Section 2. Sinkhole Hazard Identification

    This section directs USGS to establish a program to study 
the short-term and long-term mechanisms that cause sinkholes, 
including extreme weather events, prolonged droughts causing 
shifts in water management practices, aquifer depletion, and 
other major changes in water use; and develop maps depicting 
zones at greater risk of sinkhole formation. This section 
requires the USGS Director, at least once in each five-year 
period, to assess the need to revise and update these maps.
    This section also directs USGS to establish a public 
website that displays these maps and other relevant information 
for use by community planners and emergency managers.
    The Sinkhole Mapping Act of 2019 does not provide USGS 
additional funding to establish this program.


    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, March 10, 2020.
Hon. Raul M. Grijalva,
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. 496, the Sinkhole 
Mapping Act of 2019.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Robert Reese.
                                         Phillip L. Swagel,


    H.R. 496 would direct the United States Geological Survey 
(USGS) to study the causes of sinkholes and to develop maps 
depicting the areas most at risk of developing sinkholes. The 
bill also would require the USGS to review those maps every 
five years, update them as necessary, and publish them online.
    Using information from USGS about the cost of completing 
similar mapping activities and accounting for additional costs 
associated with creating and maintaining a public website and 
database for those maps and other information, CBO estimates 
that implementing H.R. 496 would cost $4 million over the 2020-
2025 period. Such spending would be subject to the availability 
of appropriated funds.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Robert Reese. 
The estimate was reviewed by H. Samuel Papenfuss, Deputy 
Director of Budget Analysis.
    2. General Performance Goals and Objectives. As required by 
clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII, the general performance goals and 
objectives of this bill are to direct the Director of the 
United States Geological Survey to establish a program to map 
zones that are at greater risk of sinkhole formation.

                           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.


    This bill contains no unfunded mandates.

                           EXISTING PROGRAMS

    This bill does not establish or reauthorize a program of 
the federal government known to be duplicative of another 


    The Committee finds that the legislation does not relate to 
the terms and conditions of employment or access to public 
services or accommodations within the meaning of section 
102(b)(3) of the Congressional Accountability Act.


    Any preemptive effect of this bill over state, local, or 
tribal law is intended to be consistent with the bill's 
purposes and text and the Supremacy Clause of Article VI of the 
U.S. Constitution.

                        CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW

    If enacted, this bill would make no changes to existing