[House Report 112-303]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]


112th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session                                                    112-303

======================================================================



 
  AMENDING THE WILD AND SCENIC RIVERS ACT RELATED TO A SEGMENT OF THE 
        LOWER MERCED RIVER IN CALIFORNIA, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES

                                _______
                                

December 1, 2011.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

 Mr. Hastings of Washington, from the Committee on Natural Resources, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                             together with

                            DISSENTING VIEWS

                        [To accompany H.R. 2578]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

  The Committee on Natural Resources, to whom was referred the 
bill (H.R. 2578) to amend the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act 
related to a segment of the Lower Merced River in California, 
and for other purposes, having considered the same, report 
favorably thereon without amendment and recommend that the bill 
do pass.

                          Purpose of the Bill

    The purpose of H.R. 2578 is to amend the Wild and Scenic 
Rivers Act related to a segment of the Lower Merced River in 
California.

                  Background and Need for Legislation

    H.R. 2578 would adjust the Merced Wild and Scenic River 
boundary to coincide with the Federal Energy Regulatory 
Commission (FERC) operational boundary for the Merced 
Irrigation District's (MID) New Exchequer Dam project at Lake 
McClure on the Merced River.
    When the Merced Wild and Scenic River was designated, it 
encroached nearly half a mile into an existing FERC operational 
boundary for the Exchequer Dam. Aligning the Merced Wild and 
Scenic River boundary with the standing project boundary will 
allow FERC to consider for MID's relicensing a temporary 
seasonal increase of Lake McClure that is 10 feet above the 
currently established 867 feet mean sea level. This would be 
for a maximum of 60 days from May 1 to July 31 during above-
normal water years in an area that naturally floods to levels 
over 890 feet and impacts less than one mile of the 122.5 miles 
of the Merced River.
    Wild and Scenic River designations are not absolute. The 
ability to create or annex Wild and Scenic River designations 
provides the same latitude for reducing or limiting them. 
Congress can adjust Wild and Scenic River boundaries, 
especially if it serves a greater good.
    The bill is common sense legislation that will allow for 
desperately needed storage of up to 70,000 acre-feet of water, 
which has the potential for the generation of an additional 
10,000 mega-watt hours of clean renewable electricity, 
increased recreation activity in the area and agricultural 
benefits, as well as the creation of about 840 jobs. It will 
also increase desperately needed water supply to the San 
Joaquin Valley.

                            Committee Action

    H.R. 2578 was introduced on July 18, 2011, by Congressman 
Jeff Denham (R-CA). The bill was referred to the Committee on 
Natural Resources, and within the Committee to the Subcommittee 
on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands. On July 16, 2011, 
the Subcommittee held a hearing on the bill. On October 5, 
2011, the Full Natural Resources Committee met to consider the 
bill. The Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public 
Lands was discharged by unanimous consent. No amendments were 
offered, and the bill was ordered favorably reported to the 
House of Representatives by voice vote.

            Committee Oversight Findings and Recommendations

    Regarding clause 2(b)(1) of rule X and clause 3(c)(1) of 
rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the 
Committee on Natural Resources' oversight findings and 
recommendations are reflected in the body of this report.

                    Compliance With House Rule XIII

    1. Cost of Legislation. Clause 3(d)(1) of rule XIII of the 
Rules of the House of Representatives requires an estimate and 
a comparison by the Committee of the costs which would be 
incurred in carrying out this bill. However, clause 3(d)(2)(B) 
of that rule provides that this requirement does not apply when 
the Committee has included in its report a timely submitted 
cost estimate of the bill prepared by the Director of the 
Congressional Budget Office under section 402 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974. Under clause 3(c)(3) of rule 
XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives and section 
403 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the Committee has 
received the following cost estimate for this bill from the 
Director of the Congressional Budget Office:

H.R. 2578--A bill to amend the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act related to a 
        segment of the Lower Merced River in California, and for other 
        purposes

    Under current law, certain portions of the Lower Merced 
River in California are designated as wild and scenic under the 
Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, which specifies procedures and 
policies regarding the use of such rivers and adjacent lands. 
H.R. 2578 would remove that designation from about one-half 
mile of the river. According to the Bureau of Land Management 
(BLM), this change would effectively expand the boundary of a 
hydroelectric facility (project number 2179) licensed by the 
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
    CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 2578 would have no 
significant impact on the federal budget. Based on information 
from BLM, we estimate that any changes in the agency's costs to 
manage the affected area would not exceed $500,000 in any year, 
assuming the availability of appropriated funds. Modifying the 
boundary of FERC project 2179 could affect FERC's costs related 
to licencing and regulating that project. However, because FERC 
recovers 100 percent of its costs through user fees, any change 
in administrative costs (which are controlled through annual 
appropriation acts) would be offset by an equal change in fees 
that the commission charges, resulting in no net change in 
federal spending.
    Enacting H.R. 2578 would not affect direct spending or 
revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply. 
H.R. 2578 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 CBO staff contacts for this estimate are Megan Carroll 
and Jeff LaFave. The estimate was approved by Theresa Gullo, 
Deputy Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.
    2. Section 308(a) of Congressional Budget Act. As required 
by clause 3(c)(2) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives and section 308(a) of the Congressional Budget 
Act of 1974, this bill does not contain any new budget 
authority, spending authority, credit authority, or an increase 
or decrease in revenues or tax expenditures. CBO estimates that 
implementing H.R. 2578 would have no significant impact on the 
federal budget. Based on information from the Bureau of Land 
Management, CBO estimates that any changes in the agency's 
costs to manage the affected area would not exceed $500,000 in 
any year, assuming the availability of appropriated funds. 
Modifying the boundary of the Federal Energy Regulatory 
Commission (FERC) project 2179 could affect FERC's costs 
related to licensing and regulating that project. However, 
because FERC recovers 100 percent of its costs through user 
fees, any change in administrative costs (which are controlled 
through annual appropriation acts) would be offset by an equal 
change in fees that the commission charges, resulting in no net 
change in federal spending.
    3. General Performance Goals and Objectives. As required by 
clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII, the general performance goal or 
objective of this bill is to amend the Wild and Scenic Rivers 
Act related to a segment of the Lower Merced River in 
California.

                           Earmark Statement

    This bill does not contain any Congressional earmarks, 
limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined 
under clause 9(e), 9(f), and 9(g) of rule XXI of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives.

                    Compliance With Public Law 104-4

    This bill contains no unfunded mandates.

                Preemption of State, Local or Tribal Law

    This bill is not intended to preempt any State, local or 
tribal law.

         Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported

  In compliance with clause 3(e) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, changes in existing law made by 
the bill, as reported, are shown as follows (existing law 
proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black brackets, new 
matter is printed in italic, existing law in which no change is 
proposed is shown in roman):

WILD AND SCENIC RIVERS ACT

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


  Sec. 3. (a) The following rivers and the land adjacent 
thereto are hereby designated as components of the national 
wild and scenic rivers system:
  (1) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

  (62) Merced, California.--(A) * * *
  (B)(i) The main stem from a point 300 feet upstream of the 
confluence with Bear Creek downstream to [the normal maximum 
operating pool water surface level of Lake McClure (elevation 
867 feet mean sea level) consisting of approximately 8 miles, 
as generally depicted on the map entitled ``Merced Wild and 
Scenic River'', dated April, 1990.] the boundary of FERC 
Project No. 2179 as it existed on July 18, 2011, consisting of 
a point approximately 2,480 feet downstream of the confluence 
with the North Fork of the Merced River, consisting of 
approximately 7.4 miles. The Secretary of the Interior shall 
administer the segment as recreational, from a point 300 feet 
upstream of the confluence with Bear Creek downstream to a 
point 300 feet west of the boundary of the Mountain King Mine, 
and as wild, from a point 300 feet west of the boundary of the 
Mountain King Mine to [the normal maximum operating pool water 
surface level of Lake McClure] the boundary of FERC Project No. 
2179 as it existed on July 18, 2011, consisting of a point 
approximately 2,480 feet downstream of the confluence with the 
North Fork of the Merced River. The requirements of subsection 
(b) of this section shall be fulfilled by the Secretary of the 
Interior through appropriate revisions to the Sierra Management 
Framework Plan for the Sierra Planning Area of the Folsom 
Resource Area, Bakersfield District, Bureau of Land Management. 
There are authorized to be appropriated such sums as may be 
necessary to carry out the purposes of this subparagraph.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

                              ----------                              


                    SECTION 3 OF PUBLIC LAW 102-432

SEC. 3. NEW EXCHEQUER PROJECT.

  The designation of the river segments referred to in section 
1 of this Act as components of the Wild and Scenic Rivers 
System shall not affect the continued operation and maintenance 
(including flood control operations) of the New Exchequer 
Project (Project No. 2179) as licensed by the Federal Energy 
Regulatory Commission on the date of enactment of this Act or 
the Commission's authority to issue a new license to the 
existing licensee for such project within the project 
boundaries set forth in the license on the date of enactment of 
this [Act: Provided, That if the Commission issues a new 
license to the existing licensee for such a project, the normal 
maximum operating pool water surface level authorized in the 
project's license shall not exceed elevation 867.0 mean sea 
level.] Act.

                            DISSENTING VIEWS

    H.R. 2578 proposes to amend the National Wild & Scenic 
Rivers Act to expand the storage capacity of Lake McClure, 
which would result in a recurring, temporary inundation of 
approximately 1 mile of the Merced River. More important, H.R. 
2578 would renege on a promise between the Merced Irrigation 
Water District and other stakeholders made nearly two decades 
ago when the designation was signed into law by President 
George H.W. Bush.
    Proponents of the legislation tout the significance of 
additional storage in the Central Valley. The project is 
expected to increase yield in the reservoir on average of 
10,000 acre-feet per year. This is only a one percent increase 
to the one million acre-feet capacity of Lake McClure. Congress 
has never before authorized the flooding of a designated Wild 
and Scenic River and there is no justification for doing so in 
this case.

                                   Edward J. Markey.
                                   Grace F. Napolitano.
                                   Raul M. Grijavla.
                                   Rush Holt.
                                   Ben R. Lujan.
                                   Dale E. Kildee.
                                   Niki Tsongas.