Legislation

Legislation introduced by Natural Resources Democrats in the 113th Congress

  • H.R. 4402, Guam Military Training and Readiness Act of 2014
  • H.R. 4296, To amend Public Law 94-241 with respect to the Northern Mariana Islands
  • H.R. 4309, To amend the Sikes Act to make certain improvements to the administration of cooperative agreements for land management related to Department of Defense readiness activities, and for other purposes.
  • H.R. 4258, SECURE Water Amendments Act
  • H.R. 4218, Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area Reauthorization Act
  • H.R. 4039, California Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2014
  • H.R. 4125, Shasta Dam Expansion Act of 2014
  • H.R. 4126, San Luis Reservoir Expansion Act of 2014
  • H.R. 4127, Upper San Joaquin River Storage Act of 2014
  •  H.R. 3976, Wounded Veterans Recreation Act
  • H.R. 3859, Oil and Gas Leasing Inflation Adjustment Act
  • H.R. 3886, To amend the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000
  • H.R. 3780, Ocean Energy Safety and Technology Improvement Act of 2013
  • H.R. 15, Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act
  • H.R. 3326, Trinity County Land Exchange Act of 2013
  • H.R. 3415, Pinyon-Juniper Related Projects Implementation Act
  • H.R. 3178, Preservation Research at Institutions Serving Minorities Act
  •  H.R. 3131, National Park Service Study Act of 2013
  •  H.R. 1222, Compact-Impact Aid Act of 2013
  • H.R. 3176, To reauthorize the Reclamation States Emergency Drought Relief Act of 1991, and for other purposes
  • H.R. 2601, Beach Act of 2013
  • H.R.1445,  Sandy Disaster Fisheries Relief Act
  • H.R. 1442, Depleting Risk from Insect Infestation, Soil Erosion, and Catastrophic Fire Act
  • H.R. 2276, Virgin Valley Tourism and Lake Mead Preservation Act
  • H.R.2491, Devil's Staircase Wilderness Act of 2013
  • H.R.2488, Rogue Wilderness Area Expansion Act
  • H.R.2489,  Oregon Caves Revitalization Act of 2013
  • H.R. 2200, Territorial Omnibus Act of 2013
  • H.R. 2205, Groundwork USA Trust Act of 2013
  • H.R. 2015, Las Vegas Valley Public Land and Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument Act of 2013
  • H.R. 2000, Puerto Rico Status Resolution Act
  • H.R. 1927, More Water and Security for Californians Act
  • H.R. 1837, Clean Water Protection Act
  • H.R. 1934, Saguaro National Park Boundary Expansion and Study Act of 2013
  • H.R. 1834, 21st Century Great Outdoors Commission Act
  • H.R. 1799, Arizona Sonoran Desert Heritage Act of 2013
  • H.R. 1744, Multispecies Habitat Conservation Plan Implementation Act
  • H.R. 1677, Yosemite National Park Boundary Expansion Act of 2013
  • H.R. 1600, Requirements, Expectations, and Standard Procedures for Executive Consultation with Tribes Act
  • H.R. 2467, Abandoned Mine Lands Cleanup and Taxpayer Fairness Act
  • H.R. 1411, California Coastal National Monument Expansion Act of 2013
  • H.R. 1347, Meers Point Boundary Adjustment Act
  • H.R. 1352, Lower Colorado River Protection Act
  • H.R. 1351, Public Lands Service Corps Act of 2013
  • H.R. 1350, Grand Canyon Watersheds Protection Act of 2013
  • H.R. 1349, Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area Act
  • H.R. 1348, Great Bend of the Gila National Monument Establishment Act
  • H.R. 1384, Wildlife Refuge System Conservation Semipostal Stamp Act of 2013
  • H.R. 1329, Marine Turtle Conservation Reauthorization Act of 2013
  • H.R. 1630, America's Red Rock Wilderness Act
  • H.R.1215, Chetco River Protection Act of 2013
  • H.R. 1189, American Natural Gas Security and Consumer Protection Act
  • H.R. 1190, Keep America's Oil Here Act
  • H.R. 1191, Keep American Natural Gas Here Act
  • H.R. 1183, Southern Arizona Public Lands Protection Act of 2013
  • H.R. 1175, Focused Reduction of Effluence and Stormwater runoff through Hydrofracking Environmental Regulation Act of 2013
  • H.R. 1080, To amend the Sikes Act to promote the use of cooperative agreements under such Act for land management related to Department of Defense readiness activities and to amend title 10, United States Code, to facilitate interagency cooperation in conservation programs to avoid or reduce adverse impacts on military readiness activities.
  • H.R. 1033, American Battlefield Protection Program Amendments Act of 2013
  • H.R. 745, To reauthorize the Water Desalination Act of 1996.
  • H.R.696,  Lyon County Economic Development and Conservation Act
  • H.R. 666, To amend the Act of June 18, 1934, to reaffirm the authority of the Secretary of the Interior to take land into trust for Indian tribes.
  • H.R. 674, Rota Cultural and Natural Resources Study Act  
  • H.R. 622, American Memorial Park Tinian Annex Act
  • H.R. 601, Permanent Repeal of Oil Subsidies Act
  • H.R. 573, To amend Public Law 93-435 with respect to the Northern Mariana Islands, providing parity with Guam, the Virgin Islands, and American Samoa
  • H.R. 518, To amend the Reclamation States Emergency Drought Relief Act of 1991 for the purposes of extending the Reclamation States Emergency Drought Relief Act of 1991 through 2018, and for other purposes
  • H.R. 512, Dr. Rita Hocog Inos Territorial Fellowship Act
  • H.R. 507, Pascua Yaqui Tribe Trust Land Act
  • H.R. 412, Nashua River Wild and Scenic River Study Act
  • H.R. 71, Coral Reef Conservation Act Reauthorization and Enhancement Amendments of 2013
  • H.R. 69, Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing Enforcement Act of 2013
  • H.R. 44, Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act
  • H.R. 139, Udall-Eisenhower Arctic Wilderness Act

 

 

 

 

 

Democratic Dissenting Views 113th Congress

H.R. 3  Northern Route Approval Act (Terry, R-NB) – Transportation and Infrastructure/Energy and Commerce/Natural Resources)

We oppose H.R. 3 because it would have the United States bear all of the environmental risk of transporting dirty tar sands oil without ensuring that American consumers or our energy  security realize any of the benefits. Click here to read more. 

 

Democratic Dissenting Views 112th Congress

H.R. 3409 - Coal Miner Employment And Domestic Energy Infrastructure Protection Act (Johnson, R-OH)

We oppose H.R. 3409 because it is so broadly drafted that it could have the effect of preventing the Interior Department from issuing almost any rulemaking dealing with coal mining, including regulations that are necessary to ensure states can properly carry out their programs, regulations that would ensure that mining operations are safe and that public health and American taxpayers are prrotected, and even regulations beneficial to the mining industry. Click here to read more. 

 

 

H.R. 1904 Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act of 2011 (Gosar, R-AZ)

Resolution Copper Mining, LLC (Resolution Copper) is a subsidiary of Rio Tinto and BHP-Billiton. Resolution Copper owns land and holds mining claims on the Tonto National Forest in Southeastern Arizona. The company believes the area is home to a significant copper deposit and is seeking to develop a lucrative copper mining operation. However, approximately 760 acres of national forest land in the area was withdrawn from mining by President Eisenhower in 1955. Resolution Copper is seeking H.R. 1904 to require the federal government to exchange the withdrawn forest land for land owned by the Company so that the mining operation can proceed. Click here to read more. 

 

H.R. 4089 - Sportsmen's Heritage Act of 2012 (Miller, R-FL) 

H.R. 4089 is a solution in search of a problem. A majority of federal lands are available for hunting and fishing activities. There is broad agreement that hunting, fishing, trapping, and other wildlife-dependent activities have always taken place on our federal lands and should continue to take place on our federal lands. The number of visitors to public lands who engage in hunting, fishing, and other wildlife-dependent activities remain constant and quite high. Click here to read more. 

H.R. 6082 - Congressional Replacement of President Obama's Energy-Restricting and Job-Limiting Offshore Drilling Plan (Hastings, D-WA)

With the passage of H.R. 6082, over the last 18 months the Natural Resources Committee has now reported out a total of 11 bills intended to open up nearly every last piece of our public lands to drilling and hand even more giveaways to Big Oil. All in all, the Majority has cast a total of 62 votes in the Natural Resources Committee that benefit the oil and gas industry.

The Majority has voted repeatedly to allow drilling off our beaches in California, New Jersey and Florida without improving the safety of offshore drilling. They have voted to allow drilling in the crown jewel of our wildlife refuge system, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. They have voted to turn over nearly all of our public lands onshore to the oil industry within a few short years. They have repeatedly voted against putting in place any new 

safety standards for offshore drilling following the BP spill, against ensuring that oil companies making record profits are paying their fair share to drill on public lands, and against keeping the oil and gas produced from public lands here in America to benefit American consumers. 

We oppose H.R. 6082 because it continues that trend, forcing drilling off the East Coast, stretching from Maine to South Carolina, off of Southern California and in the important fishery of Bristol Bay off Alaska while preventing proper environmental review. This legislation would also dangerously rush additional leasing offshore in the Arctic. Click here to read more.

H.R. 1229 - Putting the Gulf of Mexico Back to Work Act (Hastings, R-WA)

We oppose H.R. 1229 because it would impose artificial and arbitrary deadlines on the Department of the Interior to approve permits to drill.  One year after  the BP Deepwater Horizon spill, this legislation could actually make offshore drilling less, rather than more, safe by potentially limiting the review of drilling permits by the agency charged with overseeing the industry. Click here to read more.

H.R. 1230 – Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act  (Hastings, R-WA)

Witness after witness before the Natural Resources Committee has made clear that the price of oil is determined on an international market, largely controlled by OPEC.  Increases in U.S. 

domestic production can easily be offset by reductions in OPEC production in order to maintain high prices.    
 

H.R. 1230 will not change this reality.  All it would do is insist on denying the reality of the BP spill and put the Gulf and the Nation back on the dangerous path that led to that tragic event.  Click here to read more.

H.R. 1231 – Reversing President Obama’s Offshore Moratorium Act (Hastings, R-WA)

We oppose H.R. 1231 because, in seeking to “reverse” a drilling moratorium that does not even exist, the bill will reverse any progress towards safer off-shore energy production. Click here to read more. 

H.R. 4480 - Domestic Energy and Jobs Act (Gardner, R-CO)

In the first three years of the Obama Administration, the Department of the Interior has approved more permits to drill for oil and natural gas, and industry has begun drilling more wells, than during the first three years of the Bush Administration. Moreover, the U.S. has produced more oil from federal lands onshore last year than at any point going back to 2003. In fact, there are now more drilling rigs operating in the United States than in the rest of the world combined. In large part as a result of the Obama Interior Department “all-of-the-above” energy strategy, our dependence on foreign oil has fallen from 57 percent at the end of the Bush Administration to 45 percent last year. Yet oil and gas companies still hold more than 25 million acres of public land onshore – an area roughly the size of the state of Kentucky -- on which they are not producing oil or gas.  These companies are also

sitting on nearly 6,700 drilling permits that have been approved by the Interior Department that they are not using.  

 

Title III (H.R. 4381, Tipton, R-CO) 

Title III of H.R. 4480, which is the text of H.R. 4381 as reported by the Natural Resources Committee. We oppose H.R. 4381 because it would overturn the multiple-use principle established in the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA).  By elevating energy production above hunting, fishing, recreation, grazing, conservation and the many other ways that the American people enjoy our public lands, H.R. 4381 seeks to undermine the basic principal which has guided management of public lands for 35 years.

In 2010, more than 58 million people visited BLM lands, generating $7.4 billion dollars to the economy. Nationwide it is estimated that 1.2 million jobs are provided annually by the outdoor industry, many hunting and fishing related. Yet, the plan that would be created by this bill would threaten that tremendous economic engine for our country. Click here to read more.

Title IV (H.R. 4382, Coffman, R-CO)

We oppose Title IV because the bill would set an arbitrary requirement that the Department of the Interior offer oil companies at least 25 percent of whatever onshore areas industry nominates every year, regardless of whether or not drilling in these areas would be appropriate. Under this legislation, the Interior Department could no longer lease in areas nominated by the industry that have the greatest resource potential and where drilling makes the most sense. Under Title IV, there is no limit to the acreage that can be nominated by the oil industry. This legislation would therefore threaten other important uses of our public lands such as hunting, fishing, livestock grazing and recreational shooting by requiring leasing in areas that may threaten these important values.

This arbitrary requirement that a certain percentage of acres be offered for lease also completely disregards the fact that industry already has 25 million acres of public land under lease onshore on which it is not producing. Title IV would also invalidate the BLM’s new leasing reforms, which are designed to increase certainty for the oil and gas industry and reduce the number of lease areas that are protested and have already reduced the number of protested parcels by 8 percent.

Title IV would also require the BLM to continue “actively leasing” in areas where land use plans are being updated or revised to protect wildlife or other resource values, deal with a growing population, or incorporate a new recreational activity. Click here to read more.

Title V (H.R. 4383, Lamborn, R-CO)

Title V of H.R. 4480 is both unwarranted and unwise. It would unnecessarily tie the hands of the Interior Department in reviewing drilling operations on public lands and make drilling less safe. This legislation would impose arbitrary deadlines on the Interior Department’s review of applications for permits to drill onshore. Just as the Majority tried to do for offshore drilling, drilling permits would be automatically “deemed approved” after 60 days, even if the Interior Department had not finished its safety review or important consultations with tribes or under the National Historic Preservation Act. This provision is especially dangerous given that a Natural Resources Democratic staff review of drilling safety violations on public lands found that between 1998 and 2011, one-fifth of the drilling violations on public lands were related to blowout preventers or other well control equipment.

Title V also includes a likely unconstitutional requirement that would require any American citizen seeking to protest an oil and gas lease, drilling permit or right of way to post a nonrefundable $5,000 “documentation fee."

This is a blatant attempt to deny ordinary American citizens the ability to contest decisions by the federal government.

 

The legislation also contains provisions designed to close the doors of the courthouse to citizens who believe the federal government is not complying with the law. Click here to read more.
 

Title VI (H.R. 2150, Hastings, R, WA)

Democrats support responsible drilling in the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska (NPR-A). President Obama and House Democrats have already taken steps to encourage drilling in the NPR-A. Building on legislation introduced by House Democrats earlier this year, President Obama announced in May that he would direct the Department of the Interior to conduct annual lease sales in the NPR-A and the Department is already moving forward on that schedule. While Title VI includes a similar requirement to hold at least one lease sale per year in the NPR-A, we should make sure that we are drilling in challenging environments like the Arctic responsibly, not seeking to truncate proper review as this bill would do.

Despite the fact that there are no pending applications with the Bureau of Land Management to construct roads and pipelines, Title VI would set an arbitrary clock to issue such permits.  This provision could prohibit proper NEPA review of proposals to construct major oil and gas pipelines in the Reserve in the future. This directive would also appear to require the Interior Department to compel other Cabinet-level agencies to act, something far beyond the scope of the Secretary’s authority. 

Title VI would further require the Secretary to develop regulations to require action on drilling permits within 60 days despite existing regulations that already require consideration of such applications within 90 days.  Moreover, there are currently no pending applications at the Bureau of Land Management for permits to drill in the NPR-A and oil companies have actually been relinquishing their leases in the Reserve.

Title VI would also waste taxpayer resources by requiring the Interior Department to conduct unnecessary and duplicative studies. The bill would require the BLM to map out a spider-web of roads and pipelines across the entire reserve before we even know where future oil and gas production may take place would be wasteful and counterproductive. H.R. 2150 would also require the U.S. Geological Survey to complete an assessment of the technically recoverable oil and gas in the Reserve despite the fact that the USGS just completed such an assessment of the undiscovered oil and gas reserves in the NPR-A in October of 2010 and a study of the economically recoverable oil and gas in the Reserve last year. 

 

H.R. 2578 -  To amend the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act related to a segment of the Lower Merced River in California, and for other purposes (Denham, R-CA)

Republican Legislation Creates 100-mile DRONEZONES on Borders; Hands Over Alaskan National Forest; Approves Sea Lion Firing Squads

Kicking off their “Great American Giveaway” week, House Republicans passed a dangerous public lands bill that includes dangerous anti-immigrant provisions while attacking

 America’s environment, forests, and wildlife. 

The bill, H.R. 2578, passed the House by a 232-188 vote. Nineteen Republicans voted against the bill.

The centerpiece of the bill is a section authored by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) which would exempt DHS from more than a dozen U.S. laws that protect American citizens from pollution, land rights, religious freedom,

and other liberties and protections to create a 100-mile “Operational Control Zone” for the Department of Homeland Security on federal lands. It would expand out to 100 miles the area where DHS can use drones to conduct surveillance on our citizens, and represents a new front opened by Republicans in their war on immigrants.

Republicans voted down several amendments offered by Democrats that would have eliminated the creation of a 100-mile “Operational Control Zone” for DHS, to create a pilot program to study how to provide taxpayers with a better rate of return for grazing on public lands, and to ban the export of American timber to China and other countries if the Tongass National Forest is opened to more timber harvest.

 

 

 

H.R. 4402 – National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2012 (Lamborn, R-CO)

We oppose H.R. 4402 because despite the bill’s title, it has almost nothing to do with rare earths and other strategic and critical minerals.  In fact, under the guise of promoting the development of minerals critical to U.S. national security, this legislation would dramatically reshape virtually all mining on public lands for nearly all minerals.

H.R. 4402 is so broadly drafted that it would reduce or eliminate proper review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for almost all types of mines on public lands – including hardrock mines such as silver and uranium; it could limit proper review of mines for minerals that are not remotely critical such as sand or gravel and it would even potentially apply to coal mines.  There is virtually no type of mine that would be excluded from the truncated environmental review envisioned by this bill, where the mining industry, rather than the Interior Department, would be able to determine the time available for important environmental reviews.

Moreover, according to Natural Resources Democratic staff analysis of data provided by the BLM for hardrock mines on public lands for which we have complete data, the average time it takes to approve a plan of operation for a mine has actually decreased under the Obama Administration.  According to the BLM data, plans of operation for hardrock mines are being approved roughly 17 percent more quickly under the Obama Administration than under the Bush Administration.  Despite industry claims, 82 percent of plans of operation are approved within three years under the Obama Administration and according to the BLM, “it takes on average four years to approve a mining plan of operations for a large mine (more than 1,000 acres) on public lands.”  Click here to read more.