[Senate Report 109-166]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]

                                                       Calendar No. 267
109th Congress                                                   Report
 1st Session                                                    109-166



                October 27, 2005.--Ordered to be printed


   Mr. Domenici, from the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 213]

    The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was 
referred the bill (S. 213) to direct the Secretary of the 
Interior to convey certain Federal land to Rio Arriba County, 
New Mexico, having considered the same, reports favorably 
thereon with an amendment and recommends that the bill, as 
amended, do pass.
    Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert in lieu 
thereof the following:


    This Act may be cited as the ``Rio Arriba County Land Conveyance 


    In this Act:
          (1) County.--The term ``County'' means the County of Rio 
        Arriba, New Mexico.
          (2) Map.--The term ``map'' means the map entitled ``Alcalde 
        Proposed Land Transfer'' and dated September 23, 2004.
          (3) Secretary.--The term ``Secretary'' means the Secretary of 
        the Interior.


    (a) In General.--Subject to valid existing rights, the Secretary 
shall convey to the County, without consideration, all right, title, 
and interest of the United States in and to the land (including any 
improvements to the land) described in subsection (b).
    (b) Description of Land.--The land referred to in subsection (a) 
consists of approximately 171 acres of land located on the Sebastian 
Martin Land Grant in the vicinity of Alcalde, Rio Arriba County, New 
Mexico, as depicted on the map.
    (c) Reversion.--If any portion of the land conveyed under 
subsection (a) ceases to be used for public purposes the land shall, at 
the option of the Secretary, revert to the United States.
    (d) Conditions on Sales.--If the County sells any portion of the 
land conveyed to the County under subsection (a)--
          (1) the amount of consideration for the sale shall reflect 
        fair market value, as determined by an appraisal; and
          (2) the County shall pay to the Secretary an amount equal to 
        the gross proceeds of the sale, for use by the Director of the 
        Bureau of Land Management in the State of New Mexico, without 
        further appropriation.
    (e) Costs.--The County shall pay any costs associated with the 
conveyance of land under subsection (a).

                         PURPOSE OF THE MEASURE

    The purpose of S. 213 is to direct the Secretary of the 
Interior to convey approximately 171 acres of Federal land to 
Rio Arriba County, New Mexico.

                          BACKGROUND AND NEED

    S. 213 provides for the conveyance of approximately 171 
acres of land located on the Sebastian Martin Land Grant in the 
vicinity of Alcalde, New Mexico to Rio Arriba County. The land 
is needed for county facilities, a cemetery for a local parish, 
and a new public school. Rio Arriba County lack sufficient land 
to meet the population's growing needs. The county has worked 
with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to find a parcel of 
land that each agrees will best serve the public if it is 
transferred to county ownership. BLM was unable to handle this 
transfer administratively due to the particular history of how 
this parcel came into Federal ownership. S. 213 directs the 
Secretary of the Interior to convey the parcel without 
consideration, to the county.

                          LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

    S. 213 was introduced by Senators Bingaman and Domenici on 
January 31, 2005. The Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests 
held a hearing on S. 213 on March 8, 2005. At the business 
meeting on September 28, 2005, the Committee on Energy and 
Natural Resources ordered S. 213, favorably reported with an 
amendment in the nature of a substitute.

                       COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATIONS

    The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in open 
business session on September 28, 2005, by a unanimous vote of 
a quorum present, recommends that the Senate pass S. 213, if 
amended as described herein.

                          COMMITTEE AMENDMENT

    During the consideration of S. 213, the Committee adopted 
an amendment in the nature of a substitute that simplifies the 
intended conveyance and corrects the acreage to be conveyed.

                      SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS

    Sections 1 and 2 provide the short title and definitions 
for the bill.
    Section 3 directs the Secretary of the Interior to convey 
approximately 171 acres to Rio Arriba County, including any 
improvements to the land. The section provides a reversionary 
clause where, at the discretion of the Secretary, the land may 
be returned to Federal ownership if it is used for other than a 
public purpose. The section also requires the county to pay any 
costs associated with the conveyance, forbids the sale of any 
land for less than fair market value and directs proceeds of 
any such sale be remitted to the Bureau of Land Management.


    The following estimate of the cost of this measure has been 
provided by the Congressional Budget Office:

S. 213--Rio Arriba County Land Conveyance Act

    S. 213 would direct the Secretary of the Interior to 
convey, for no consideration, 171 acres of federal land in New 
Mexico to the county of Rio Arriba. As a condition of the 
proposed conveyance, the bill would require the county to use 
that land for public purposes.
    CBO estimates that S. 213 would have no significant impact 
on the federal budget. According to the Bureau of Land 
Management, the land to be conveyed currently generates no 
significant receipts and is not expected to do so over the next 
10 years. Therefore, we estimate that the bill would not 
significantly affect offsetting receipts (a credit against 
direct spending). Because the bill specifies that the county 
would pay any costs associated with the conveyance, we also 
estimate that the agency's administrative costs to complete the 
proposed transaction, which would be subject to appropriation, 
would be negligible. Enacting S. 213 would not affect revenues.
    S. 213 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and 
would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal governments. 
The land conveyance authorized by this bill would benefit Rio 
Arriba county, and they would incur any associated costs 
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Megan Carroll. 
This estimate was approved by Peter H. Fontaine, Deputy 
Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.


    In compliance with paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee makes the following 
evaluation of the regulatory impact which would be incurred in 
carrying out S. 213. The bill is not a regulatory measure in 
the sense of imposing Government-established standards or 
significant economic responsibilities on private individuals 
and businesses.
    No personal information would be collected in administering 
the program. Therefore, there would be no impact on personal 
    Little, if any, additional paperwork would result from the 
enactment of S. 213, as ordered reported.

                        EXECUTIVE COMMUNICATIONS

    Views of the Administration on S. 213 were included in 
testimony provided by the Bureau of Land Management at the 
Subcommittee hearing as follows:

Statement of Christopher Kearny, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy 
         and International Affairs, Department of the Interior

    Thank you for the opportunity to present testimony on S. 
213, the Rio Arriba County Land Conveyance Act. S. 213 would 
convey approximately 150.86 acres of land managed by the Bureau 
of Land Management (BLM) in Rio Arriba County (County), New 
Mexico, to the County for the purposes of providing County 
facilities, a new public school, and a cemetery for a local 
parish on the lands. The Department supports the conveyance. We 
recommend some technical clarifications to the bill, and would 
like the opportunity to work with the sponsors and the 
Subcommittee to develop language to address these 
    The lands proposed for conveyance in S. 213 are located to 
the north of Santa Fe, in the vicinity of Alcalde in north-
central New Mexico. The growing population in Rio Arriba County 
has led to an increasing demand for municipal services. 
However, Rio Arriba County has a limited land base, and has 
been working with the BLM in an effort to acquire Federal land 
for use in the County's efforts to provide expanded services.
    Under the Recreation and Public Purposes (R&PP) Act, the 
BLM can administratively transfer Federal lands to local 
governments at a reduced price, for various public purposes, 
including schools and municipal facilities. If the lands to be 
conveyed under S. 213 were part of the public domain, the BLM 
would have been able to transfer the lands under R&PP Act 
without the need for authorizing legislation. However, these 
lands are located on the Sebastian Martin Land Grant and were 
acquired by the Federal government under the Bankhead-Jones 
Act. The R&PP Act does not apply to acquired lands. Section 
3(c) of S. 213 resolves this issue by directing that the land 
conveyed under the legislation be treated as public land for 
purposes of the R&PP Act.
    Under the R&PP Act, local governments may purchase Federal 
lands at reduced prices. The R&PP Act authorizes a schedule of 
reduced prices established by the Secretary, based upon the 
fair market value of the property, with a reduction based on 
the proposed use. For most public purposes, a local government 
may purchase Federal lands under the R&PP Act for $10 per acre. 
The special pricing applies to land which will be under the 
control of the local government, used for government purposes, 
and serve the general public. Examples include land on which 
facilities will be constructed for education and public health, 
fire and law enforcement, administrative services, social 
services, storage and maintenance, and public works. We would 
like the opportunity to work with the Subcommittee to clarify 
exactly which lands among the 150.86 acres are proposed for 
which specific uses and to develop a more precise map. Once we 
have that information, the Secretary would be able to apply the 
provisions of the R&PP Act to determine the appropriate price 
to be paid by the County.
    We believe some clarifications to the legislation would be 
helpful. The bill should clarify that valid existing rights are 
protected. In addition, the bill should resolve the 
inconsistency between Section 3(a), which directs the Secretary 
to convey ``all right, title, and interest'' in the lands, and 
the R&PP Act, under which the mineral estate is reserved to the 
United States. In addition, conveyances under the R&PP Act 
require analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act 
(NEPA). Also, because the lands to be conveyed under S. 213 
were identified for retention under the BLM's Taos Resource 
Management Plan (RMP), the RMP will need to be amended. 
Completion of the requisite NEPA analysis and RMP amendment may 
not be possible within the one-year time frame prescribed for 
the land transfer under bill.
    Thank you again for the opportunity to testify. We look 
forward to working with the Subcommittee to help achieve a 
positive result. I will be happy to answer any questions.

                        CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW

    In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee notes that no 
changes in existing law are made by the bill S. 213, as ordered