CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Tuesday, March 4, 2014, the House will consider H.R. 2197, the York River Wild and Scenic River Study Act of 2013, under a suspension of the rules. The bill was introduced on May 23, 2013 by Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources, which ordered the bill reported by unanimous consent.
H.R. 2197 amends the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to designate an 11.25 mile section of the York River in Maine and all of its associated tributaries for a study looking at its inclusion into the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The study would be required to determine the effect of the designation on: 1) commercial and recreational activities already conducted on the land; 2) the authorization, construction, operation, maintenance, or improvement of energy production and transmission infrastructure; and 3) the authority of state and local governments to manage those activities. The study is also required to identify: 1) all authorities that will authorize or require the Secretary to influence local land use decisions or place restrictions on non-Federal land if designated under this Act; 2) all authorities that the Secretary may use to condemn property; and 3) all private property located in the area studied pursuant to the Act.
The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968 was intended to freeze development on rivers to preserve their “free-flowing” values against the influx of man-made dams being constructed at the time. Temporary restrictions on federal actions accompany the designation of a river during the study period. No risks to the York River necessitating federal designation were identified; however, proponents explained that they would benefit from the expertise of the National Park Service (NPS). The river is evaluated on its free-flowing condition and classified as wild, scenic, or recreational, depending on the amount of development on the river. Due to concerns about the Act’s effect on the federal condemnation of private land, the NPS would be required to identify all potentially affected private land and all authorities under which it could be condemned. The study will also identify all authorities that compel the NPS to involve itself in local zoning. Local zoning is required to conform to the Act, meaning that the federal government would have a role in the development of local zoning ordinances.
Similar legislation, H.R. 2336, passed in the 112th Congress by voice vote.
 See House Report 113-223 at 1.
 Id. at 2.
 Id. at 2.
CBO estimates that implementing this legislation would have no significant impact of the federal budget, and would not affect direct spending or revenues.
For questions or further information contact the GOP Conference at 5-5107.