CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Tuesday, June 11, 2013, the House will consider H.R. 1157, the Rattlesnake Mountain Public Access Act,under a suspension of the rules. The bill was introduced on March 14, 2013 by Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA) and referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, which held a mark-up and reported the bill by unanimous consent.
H.R. 1157 directs the Secretary of the Interior to provide public access to the summit of Rattlesnake Mountain in the Hanford Reach National Monument, and allows the Secretary to enter into cooperative agreements with state and local governments and federal agencies in order to maintain public access and provide tours.
Rattlesnake Mountain in Benton County, Washington was first seized by the federal government in 1943 and was used as a buffer zone for the Manhattan nuclear project taking place at the Hanford nuclear site. The mountain went unused from 1960 until 2000 when President Clinton established the Hanford Reach National Monument.
In 2008, the Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) published its conservation plan for the monument. Despite public comments in favor of public access to the mountain, which offers unparalleled views of the area, the FWS determined that the mountain should be kept closed to the general public.
H.R. 1157 would ensure public access to the summit for its educational, recreational and historical benefits. An identical bill (H.R. 2719) passed the House in the 112th Congress on December 15, 2011 by a recorded vote of 416-0 (Roll no. 935).
The bill does not authorize appropriations. However, according to CBO, “[while] there is an existing road to the summit; however, providing public access to it may require road improvements that would cost a few million dollars according to the agency. The legislation could influence the magnitude and timing of such expenditures; however, CBO expects that any change in costs relative to those expected under current law would be minimal. Furthermore, any such costs would be subject to the availability of appropriated funds. H.R. 1157 would not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.”