[House Report 113-596]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]

113th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 2d Session                                                     113-596




 September 15, 2014.--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. 2158]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Natural Resources, to whom was referred 
the bill (H.R. 2158) to exempt from the Lacey Act Amendments of 
1981 the expedited removal from the United States of certain 
snake species, and for other purposes, having considered the 
same, report favorably thereon with an amendment and recommend 
that the bill as amended do pass.
    The amendment is as follows:
    Strike all after the enacting clause and insert the 


  This Act may be cited as the ``Expedited Departure of Certain Snake 
Species Act''.


  (a) In General.--For purposes of the Lacey Act Amendments of 1981 (16 
U.S.C. 3371 et seq.), a qualified stop of a covered snake shall not be 
treated as occurring in interstate commerce.
  (b) Definitions.--In this section:
          (1) Covered snake.--The term ``covered snake'' means any--
                  (A) Burmese python (Python molurus bivittatus);
                  (B) Indian python (Python molurus molurus);
                  (C) Northern African python (Python sebae);
                  (D) Southern African python (Python natalensis); and
                  (E) Yellow anaconda (Eunectes notaeus).
          (2) Designated airport.--The term ``designated airport'' 
        means an airport located at a designated port as defined by the 
        United States Fish and Wildlife Service under section 14.12 of 
        title 50, Code of Federal Regulations.
          (3) Qualified secure container.--The term ``qualified secure 
        container'' means a container that--
                  (A) contains the covered snake in a closely woven, 
                double-seam sewn, cloth sack that is in a second cloth 
                sack of similar construction; and
                  (B) on which there is a prominent label that states 
                ``Dangerous Reptiles''.
          (4) Qualified stop.--The term ``qualified stop''--
                  (A) except as provided in subparagraph (C), means any 
                intermediate stop in a designated airport of a covered 
                snake in a qualified secure container in the course of 
                transport of such snake that--
                          (i) begins in a designated airport; and
                          (ii) ends at a place outside of the United 
                        States not later than 48 hours after such 
                        transport begins;
                  (B) may include transfer of the qualified secure 
                container in an airport between aircraft used for such 
                transport outside of the United States; and
                  (C) does not include any stop in Hawaii.

                          PURPOSE OF THE BILL

    The purpose of H.R. 2158 is to exempt from the Lacey Act 
Amendments of 1981 the expedited removal from the United States 
of certain snake species.


    In 1900, Congress enacted legislation now termed the Lacey 
Act (16 U.S.C. 3371 et seq.) to support the efforts of states 
to protect their resident game and birds. It prevented hunters 
from killing game in one state and escaping prosecution by 
moving it across state lines. It criminalizes the shipment of 
parts or bodies of ``wild animals or birds'' killed in 
violation of a state law. In addition, the law established an 
``injurious wildlife'' category where non-native wildlife that 
were causing problems for native wildlife or habitat can be 
controlled by prohibiting the importation and interstate 
commerce of these species.
    According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, there are 230 
species that have been listed as ``injurious wildlife'' 
including 142 species of fish, mollusks, crustaceans; 79 mammal 
species; five species of reptiles; and four species of birds. 
The Lacey Act does not regulate intrastate commerce, 
possession, the breeding of a listed species or the export of a 
listed species. According to the Service, ``this means that you 
can export a listed snake without acquiring authorization under 
the Lacey Act. While you can export specimens of these four 
species, you cannot pass State lines while transporting 
specimens to an airport, and the plane cannot land in another 
State while in transit to its final destination.''
    It is this interpretation that has caused great difficulty 
for individuals and companies who desire to sell these listed 
species to customers outside of the United States. It is even 
counterproductive to the stated goals of the Service to reduce 
the population of these four species by removing them from this 
country. For example, a small business owner in the State of 
Florida had completed a sale of ten listed Burmese pythons to a 
reptile breeder in Indonesia, which ironically is the native 
habitat of these snakes. Unfortunately, he was told that he 
could not ship these snakes on a plane leaving the ``designated 
port'' of Miami, Florida, because that flight had to stop in 
Anchorage, Alaska, which is also a designated port, to take on 
fuel to complete its transit to Jakarta, Indonesia. Despite the 
fact that the shipper had obtained all of the necessary 
permits, the Service defined the stop in Alaska as interstate 
commerce. In addition, small businesses in California are 
having great difficulty shipping their listed snake species to 
Europe because many flights from the West Coast must stop in 
Newark, New Jersey, or JFK Airport in New York.
    H.R. 2158 is a narrow modification of the Lacey Act. It 
only affects these five snake species. Prior to its listing, 
the Burmese python was widely held and traded throughout the 
United States. There are no other species on the ``injurious 
wildlife'' list that even remotely approached the $1 billion 
economic value of these snakes. The bill limits the 
transportation of three snakes outside of the United States in 
a commercial air plane. The measure does not expand the list of 
designated ports identified in federal regulations (50 CFR 
14.12) and removes Honolulu, Hawaii, as an eligible port. It 
does not alleviate the need to obtain appropriate export 
permits nor does it forgive the payment of export permit fees, 
wildlife inspection fees or other required costs. All 
appropriate state laws must be complied with prior to shipment.
    Upon arrival at one of the 17 designated ports, the snakes 
and their permits will be examined by a Service wildlife 
inspector, the snakes must be transported in a secure 
container, and the snakes are held in a secure cargo location 
prior to being placed on an airline. In addition, an 
international airway bill must be obtained. This is a receipt 
issued by an international airline for goods and it is evidence 
of the contract of carriage. It is the most important document 
issued to the shipper either directly by the airline or its 
authorized agent.
    This legislation will stipulate that the export of these 
five species of nonnative snakes will not trigger the 
interstate commerce restrictions of the Lacey Act as long as 
these snakes leave the United States from one of the 17 
designated ports, only stops at another designated port, and 
their transit ends in a foreign country no later than 48 hours 
after leaving the first designated port. The remaining eligible 
``designated ports'' include Anchorage, Alaska; Atlanta, 
Georgia; Baltimore, Maryland; Boston, Massachusetts; Chicago, 
Illinois; Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas; Houston, Texas; Los 
Angeles, California; Louisville, Kentucky; Memphis, Tennessee, 
Miami, Florida; New Orleans, Louisiana; New York, New York; 
Newark, New Jersey; Portland, Oregon; San Francisco, 
California; and Seattle, Washington.
    According to the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council and 
the U.S. Association of Reptile Keepers, there are at least 30 
small businesses in this country who would find the 
clarification contained within the Expedited Departure of 
Certain Snake Species Act helpful. The majority of these 
companies are located in Florida, California and Texas.

                            COMMITTEE ACTION

    H.R. 2158 was introduced on May 23, 2013, by Congressman 
John Fleming (R-LA). The bill was referred to the Committee on 
Natural Resources, and within the Committee to the Subcommittee 
on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affairs. On July 
25, 2013, the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and 
Insular Affairs held a hearing on the bill. On July 16, 2014, 
the Natural Resources Committee met to consider the bill. The 
Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular 
Affairs was discharged by unanimous consent. Congressman John 
Fleming (R-LA) offered an amendment designated .001 to the 
bill; the amendment was adopted by unanimous consent. The bill 
as amended was then adopted and ordered favorably reported to 
the House of Representatives by unanimous consent.


    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.


    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. 2158--Expedited Departure of Certain Snake Species Act

    H.R. 2158 would allow exporters of certain species of 
snakes to transport those snakes between airports within the 
United States en route to foreign countries. The bill also 
would allow those snakes to be transferred between planes at 
airports in the United States. Because those species, which 
include the Burmese python, Indian Python, Northern and 
Southern African pythons, and the yellow anaconda, are 
classified as injurious wildlife under the Lacey Act, they must 
be transported from certain airports in the United States 
directly to foreign airports under current law.
    Based on information provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, the agency responsible for enforcing the Lacey Act, 
CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 2158 would not affect the 
federal budget. Because enacting the bill would not affect 
direct spending or revenues, pay-as-you-go procedures do not 
    H.R. 2158 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and 
would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal 
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is 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. Based on 
information provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the 
agency responsible for enforcing the Lacey Act, CBO estimates 
that implementing H.R. 2158 would not affect the federal 
    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 exempt from the Lacey Act 
Amendments of 1981 the expedited removal from the United States 
of certain snake species.

                           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.

                       COMPLIANCE WITH H. RES. 5

    Directed Rule Making. The Chairman does not believe that 
this bill directs any executive branch official to conduct any 
specific rule-making proceedings.
    Duplication of Existing Programs. This bill does not 
establish or reauthorize a program of the federal government 
known to be duplicative of another program. Such program was 
not included in any report from the Government Accountability 
Office to Congress pursuant to section 21 of Public Law 111-139 
or identified in the most recent Catalog of Federal Domestic 
Assistance published pursuant to the Federal Program 
Information Act (Public Law 95-220, as amended by Public Law 
98-169) as relating to other programs.


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

                        CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW

    If enacted, this bill would make no changes in existing 

                            DISSENTING VIEWS

    H.R. 2158 would exempt from certain interstate commerce 
restrictions for four species of large constrictor snakes 
listed as injurious wildlife under the Lacey Act. While 
amendments added at Committee markup improved this legislation 
significantly over the introduced version, we cannot support 
the core concept of the bill: exporting invasive species to 
other countries.
    In 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) 
proposed listing nine large constrictor snake species as 
injurious under the Lacey Act, which would have banned their 
import, export, and movement across state lines. A report by 
the U.S. Geologic Survey noted that while individuals of these 
species had only established themselves in the wild in South 
Florida and Puerto Rico, a number of southern states, Hawaii, 
and all of the U.S. insular areas have suitable habitat and 
climate to support their survival. In particular the Burmese 
python, which can grow to over 18 feet in length, could 
potentially establish populations throughout the South, and as 
far north as Delaware and Oregon. After public comment and 
review of the proposed rule by the Office of Management and 
Budget (OMB), the final rule, established in January 2012, was 
limited to four species: the Burmese python, the yellow 
anaconda, and the northern and southern African pythons.
    H.R. 2158 was introduced by Fish, Wildlife, Oceans and 
Insular Affairs Subcommittee Chairman Fleming (R-LA) on May 23, 
2013. It exempts the four injurious species of constrictor 
snakes from Lacey Act interstate commerce restrictions if the 
snakes are being shipped to a destination outside the United 
States. Airplanes carrying the snakes would be allowed to make 
stops within the United States, with the exception of Hawaii, 
for the purposes of refueling or taking on cargo or passengers. 
One major concern with the bill as introduced was the 
likelihood of snakes escaping during transport. At markup, the 
Committee adopted an amendment to define the type of secure 
container necessary for transporting the snakes, and to clarify 
that stops may only be made at one of the 18 designated ports 
for wildlife trade (excepting Honolulu). This amendment was a 
welcome addition, but does not address all of our concerns with 
the bill.
    By allowing this exemption, the United States would be 
encouraging owners of these dangerous and environmentally 
destructive reptiles to export their problems to other 
countries whose laws have not yet caught up with ours. That is 
not responsible public policy. It is also likely that the 
Service will soon list as injurious several more of the 
constrictor snake species originally proposed in 2010, which 
would create a confusing inconsistency for law enforcement and 
snake owners should this bill become law. For these reasons, I 
oppose H.R. 2158 as reported.

                                   Peter DeFazio.