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H.R. 4292 (110th): Superior National Forest Land Adjustment Act of 2007

The text of the bill below is as of Dec 5, 2007 (Introduced).


I

110th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 4292

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

December 5, 2007

introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Agriculture, and in addition to the Committees on Natural Resources, Energy and Commerce, and Transportation and Infrastructure, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned

A BILL

To authorize the sale of certain National Forest System lands in the Superior National Forest in Minnesota.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Superior National Forest Land Adjustment Act of 2007.

2.

Findings and definitions

(a)

Findings

The Congress finds the following:

(1)

Fragmentation of property rights on certain lands within and adjacent to the Superior National Forest in Minnesota hampers the ability of private mineral owners to utilize their mineral rights and the ability of the Forest Service to manage associated forested areas.

(2)

The United States primarily owns the surface rights in the lands described in section 3, subject to reserved and outstanding mineral rights.

(3)

The public interest in selling the federally owned lands described in section 3 outweighs the interest served by maintaining such lands under Federal ownership.

(4)

The sale of some Federal surface and subsurface rights in lands under this Act will facilitate mining in the areas described in section 3, improving the economy of the United States by providing employment and needed mineral resources.

(5)

Minnesota and the Army Corps of Engineers, in cooperation with the Forest Service, are preparing an environmental impact statement for proposed mining operations by Poly Met Mining, Inc., on and adjacent to the lands authorized for conveyance by this Act, and the scope of the environmental impact statement is more fully described in a Federal Register notice dated July 1, 2005 (70 Fed. Reg. 38122).

(6)

Proceeds from the sale of lands authorized by this Act will be used by the Forest Service to purchase desirable private inholdings within and adjacent to the Superior National Forest.

(b)

Definitions

In this Act:

(1)

The term lands includes interests in lands.

(2)

The term Secretary means the Secretary of Agriculture.

(3)

The term surface mining means the excavation of lands for the purposes of obtaining minerals, including excavation methods such as contour, strip, auger, open pit, and area mining.

3.

Land conveyance authority, Superior National Forest, Minnesota

(a)

Conveyance authority

The Secretary of Agriculture may sell any or all right, title, and interest of the United States in and to the lands within the Superior National Forest in Minnesota described in subsection (b).

(b)

Lands authorized for conveyance

(1)

Lands described

The federally owned lands subject to sale under this Act are certain lands located in St. Louis County, Minnesota, comprising approximately 6,700 acres, more fully described as follows:

(A)

Township 59 North, Range 13 West, 4th Principal Meridian:

(i)

Sections 1 through 9, inclusive.

(ii)

Sections 10, 11, 17, and 18, those portions lying north of and subject to the right-of-way held by the Erie Railroad.

(iii)

The N½ of section 12.

(B)

Township 59 North, Range 12 West, 4th Principal Meridian:

(i)

Section 6: Lots 3, 4, and 9, inclusive.

(ii)

Section 7: Lots 3 and 4, inclusive.

(C)

Township 60 North, Range 13 West, 4th Principal Meridian:

(i)

The S½SE¼ of section 33.

(ii)

The S½S½ of section 34.

(iii)

The S½S½ of section 35.

(2)

Map

The lands described in paragraph (1) are generally depicted on a Forest Service map dated October 4, 2007, and entitled PolyMet (Proponent) Case #4544, which shall be on file and available for public inspection in the office of the Forest Supervisor, Superior National Forest, until such time as the lands are conveyed.

(3)

Modification of boundaries

The Secretary may modify the boundaries of the lands described in paragraph (1) based on factors such as buffers and other land management considerations.

(c)

Form of conveyance

The lands sold under this Act shall be conveyed by quitclaim deed executed by the Forest Service, Eastern Region, Director of Air, Soil, Water, Lands, and Minerals. The Secretary may reserve such rights-of-way or other rights or interests in the lands as the Secretary considers necessary for future management purposes or is otherwise in the public interest.

(d)

Valuation

Any appraisal of the lands to be sold under this Act shall conform to the Uniform Appraisal Standards for Federal Land Acquisitions, and the appraisal shall be subject to the approval of the Secretary. For purposes of appraisal, the lands authorized for conveyance under this Act include the right of the surface owner to allow or deny all forms of surface mining.

(e)

Consideration

Consideration for a sale of lands under this Act shall be in an amount not less than the appraised market value.

(f)

Method of Sale

The Secretary may sell lands described in subsection (b) at public or private sale, including competitive sale by auction, bid, or otherwise, in accordance with such terms, conditions, and procedures as the Secretary determines are in the best interests of the United States, subject to the following:

(1)

The Secretary shall first offer the sale of such lands for consideration at the appraised market value to Poly Met Mining, Inc., a Minnesota corporation, which shall have 90 days from the date of the offer during which to contract for the purchase of such lands.

(2)

During the 90 days period referred to in paragraph (1), the Secretary shall not offer to sell such lands to any party other than Poly Met Mining, Inc.

(3)

In the offer under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall require Poly Met Mining, Inc., to cover the reasonable costs of survey, appraisal, and other expenditures directly associated with the proposed sale.

(4)

The Secretary may reject any counteroffer made by Poly Met Mining, Inc., in response to the offer of the Secretary under paragraph (1) if the Secretary determines that the counteroffer is inadequate or is not in the public interest.

(g)

Brokers

The Secretary may utilize brokers or other third parties in the disposition of the lands authorized by this Act and, from the proceeds of a sale, may pay reasonable commissions or fees.

4.

Treatment of proceeds

(a)

Deposit

The Secretary shall deposit the proceeds of a sale authorized by this Act in the fund established by Public Law 90–171 (commonly known as the Sisk Act; 16 U.S.C. 484a).

(b)

Availability

Amounts deposited under subsection (a) shall be available to the Secretary until expended, without further appropriation, for the acquisition of lands within and adjacent to the Superior National Forest.

5.

Miscellaneous provisions

(a)

Wetlands offset

For purposes of compliance with Executive Order 11990 (May 24, 1977; 42 Fed. Reg. 26961) and Executive Order 11988 (May 24, 1977; 42 Fed. Reg. 26951), the Secretary shall offset the loss of wetlands from any sale under this Act by the acquisition of wetlands within and adjacent to the Superior National Forest within ten years after the date of the final conveyance of lands under this Act.

(b)

Environmental analysis requirement

(1)

For conveyances authorized by this Act, the Secretary shall assume that the future use of the lands so conveyed will be for surface mining.

(2)

For conveyances authorized by this Act, the ongoing preparation of an environmental impact statement by the Army Corps of Engineers referenced in section 2(a)(5) shall be considered sufficient disclosure and documentation of environmental effects as required by the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), and regulations promulgated thereunder.

(3)

Conveyances authorized under this Act shall not be delayed pending completion of the environmental impact statement referenced in section 2(a)(5).

(c)

Inapplicable law

Section 120(h) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (42 U.S.C. 9620(h)) shall not apply to the conveyances authorized by this Act.

(d)

Administrative Appeal

There shall be no administrative appeal for any actions taken by the Secretary in furtherance of the sales authorized by this Act.

(e)

Deadline for sale of lands

To the extent practicable, the sale of lands authorized by this Act shall be completed within 180 days after the enactment of this Act.