CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Monday, June 18, 2012, the House is scheduled to consider S. 404 under a suspension of the rules requiring a two-thirds majority for approval. The bill was introduced in the Senate on February 17, 2011, by Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) where it was referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Recourses on May 11, 2011. The bill was approved in the Senate by unanimous consent on October 18, 2011. S. 404 was sent to the House without amendment and referred to the Committee on Natural Resources on October 21, 2012, which held a markup and reported the bill by voice vote on April 16, 2012.
S. 404 would instruct the Secretary of the Interior to modify a land grant patent issued to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society in Chippewa County, Michigan. The Secretary of the Interior would be required to modify the land grant to reflect an agreement negotiated between the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society, the Michigan Audubon Society and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The agreement, known as the Human Use/Natural Resource Plan for Whitefish Point dated December 2002, settled a land dispute between the Audubon Society and the Shipwreck Historical Society. Ratifying the agreement would enable development plans for the property to go forward, but those plans do not involve federal spending.
According to Committee Report 112-443, in 1998, the Secretary of the Interior issued a land patent to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society to convey the ownership of several acres of land on Whitefish Point, a 43-acre spit of land jutting into Lake Superior, to the Society. Following the conveyance of the Whitefish Point property, a dispute between the Michigan Audubon Society, which owns land on Whitefish Point, and the Historical Society over the management of Whitefish Point led to a lawsuit in 1999. Pursuant to a court-ordered settlement agreement, a new plan was negotiated in 2002, which would guide development at the site. S. 404 would modify the current land patent to reflect the 2002 plan for development. The 2002 plan was developed by consensus of the parties to the litigation: the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society, the Michigan Audubon Society, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. While the 2002 plan should guide development at the site, the land patent still references the original development plan. The bill would modify the land patent such that development of new facilities and the expansion of existing facilities and infrastructure would be consistent with the 2002 plan instead of the obsolete 1992 plan.
According to CBO, “implementing S. 404 would have no effect on the federal budget.”