H.R. 2745: To amend the Mesquite Lands Act of 1986 to facilitate implementation of a multispecies habitat conservation plan for the Virgin River in Clark County, Nevada

H.R. 2745

To amend the Mesquite Lands Act of 1986 to facilitate implementation of a multispecies habitat conservation plan for the Virgin River in Clark County, Nevada

Sponsor
Rep. Joe Heck

Date
May 15, 2012 (112th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Tuesday, May 15, 2012, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 2745 under a suspension of the rules requiring a two-thirds majority for approval. The bill was introduced on August 1, 2011, by Rep. Joseph Heck (R-NV) and referred to the committee on Natural Resources, which held a mark up and reported the bill as amended by voice vote on February 29, 2012.

Bill Summary

H.R. 2745 would amend the Mesquite Lands Act of 1986 to extend the timeline for the city of Mesquite, Nevada, to purchase parcels of federal lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The bill would extend the timeline for the City of Mesquite to purchase tracks of land in Clarke County, Nevada, for a 12-year period, through November 29, 2020. The authority for the City of Mesquite to purchase Bureau of Land Management parcels made available by the Mesquite Lands Act expired in November 2011.

Additionally, H.R. 2745 would authorize BLM and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to spend a portion of the proceeds from those sales for the implementation of the Virgin River Habitat Conservation and Recovery Plan and the Hydrologic Monitoring and Mitigation Plan.

Background

According to Committee Report 112-474, the Mesquite Lands Act of 1986 (Public Law 99-548) was amended by Section 121 of Public Law 104-208 to afford the City of Mesquite, Nevada, the exclusive right to purchase certain federal land under the control of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), at not less than fair market value for a period of 12 years. On October 24, 1996, these public lands were segregated from all forms of appropriation under the public land laws, including the general mining laws, until September 29, 2008. The Mesquite Lands Act was further amended by Public Law 106-113 on November 29, 1999, with the specific purpose of conveying land to construct a commercial airport and to provide more room for commercial and industrial development to meet future demands for its citizens and a rapidly growing tourism industry. The 1999 amendment provided a timeframe of 12 years for the conveyance to occur. The lands were subject to all existing rights but were withdrawn from all forms of entry and appropriation under the public land laws, including the mining laws, and from operation of the mineral leasing and geothermal leasing laws for a period of 12 years after the date of the enactment. The authority to obtain the parcels of land made available by the Mesquite Lands Act expired in November 2011. The bill also corrects an inadvertent omission in the Clark County Conservation of Public Land and Natural Resources Act of 2002 (Public Law 107-282) to allow for the implementation of the Virgin River Habitat Conservation and Recovery Plan and the Hydrologic Monitoring and Mitigation Plan.

Cost

According to CBO, enacting H.R. 2745 would increase direct spending by $3 million over the 2012-2022 period. CBO expects that, under current law, the affected lands would be sold under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA). CBO estimates that proceeds from those sales would total about $7 million over the 2012-2020 period. Under FLPMA, 96 percent of all proceeds from lands sales are deposited in the U.S. Treasury. Because H.R. 2745 would authorize BLM and USFWS to spend roughly half of those proceeds, without further appropriation, to pay for certain administrative costs and to implement a multispecies habitat conservation plan in Clark County, Nevada, CB0 estimates that implementing the bill would increase direct spending because roughly $3 million in new revenue that would otherwise be deposited into the general Treasury would be used for conservation.