H.R. 1461: The Mescalero Apache Tribe Leasing Authorization Act

H.R. 1461

The Mescalero Apache Tribe Leasing Authorization Act

Date
September 19, 2012 (112th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Wednesday, September 19, 2012, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 1461, the Mescalero Apache Tribe Leasing Authorization Act, under a suspension of the rules requiring a two-thirds majority vote for approval. The bill was introduced on April 8, 2011, by Rep. Stevan Pearce (R-NM) and referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, which held a mark up and reported the bill by voice vote on December 1, 2011.

Bill Summary

H.R. 1461 would authorize the Mescalero Apache Tribe in New Mexico to lease water rights that were adjudicated to them in 1993. The bill limits any lease to a maximum term of 99 years (including renewals), provided the lease conforms to state law and does not allow the Tribe to alienate their water rights.

Background

According to House Report 112-307, after a long series of court cases spanning nearly twenty years the Mescalero Apache Tribe was granted “consumptive water right of 2,322.4 acre feet per year” in 1993.  Under current federal law, however, the Tribe cannot lease that right without authorization from Congress.  According to testimony given by Rep. Pearce, the water rights are not currently being used by the Tribe.  Given the current drought, allowing the Tribe to lease their water rights will help provide local communities with much needed water and provide a useful source of revenue to the reservation.

Cost

According to CBO, H.R. 1461 would have no impact on administrative costs or revenues.  Any revenues gained would be paid directly to the Mescalero Apache Tribe.