H. R. 6335
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
September 29, 2010
Mr. Heinrich introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources
To amend the Mineral Leasing Act to permanently withdraw all Federal lands from location and entry for uranium mining, to provide for leasing of such lands under such Act for uranium mining, and for other purposes.
This Act may be cited as the
Uranium Mining Modernization
Federal lands uranium leasing
The Mineral Leasing Act (30 U.S.C. 181 et seq.) is amended by redesignating section 44 as section 45, and by inserting after section 43 the following new section:
Leasing of lands for uranium mining
Withdrawal from entry; leasing requirement
Effective upon the date of enactment of this section, all Federal lands are hereby permanently withdrawn from location and entry under section 2319 of the Revised Statutes (30 U.S.C. 22 et seq.) for uranium. After the end of the 2-year period beginning on such date of enactment, no uranium may be produced from Federal lands except pursuant to a lease issued under this Act.
may divide any lands subject to this Act that are not withdrawn from mineral leasing and that are otherwise available for uranium leasing under applicable law, including lands available under the terms of land use plans prepared by the Federal agency managing the land, into leasing tracts of such size as the Secretary finds appropriate and in the public interest; and
thereafter shall, in the Secretary’s discretion, upon the request of any qualified applicant or on the Secretary’s own motion, from time to time, offer such lands for uranium leasing and award uranium leases thereon by competitive bidding.
Fair market value required
No bid for a uranium lease shall be accepted that is less than the fair market value, as determined by the Secretary, of the uranium subject to the lease.
Prior to the Secretary’s determination of the fair market value of the uranium subject to the lease, the Secretary shall give opportunity for and consideration to public comments on the fair market value.
Disclosure not required
Nothing in this section shall be construed to require the Secretary to make public the Secretary’s judgment as to the fair market value of the uranium to be leased, or the comments the Secretary receives thereon prior to the issuance of the lease.
Lands under the jurisdiction of other agencies
Leases covering lands the surface of which is under the jurisdiction of any Federal agency other than the Department of the Interior may be issued only—
upon consent of the head of the other Federal agency; and
upon such conditions the head of such other Federal agency may prescribe with respect to the use and protection of the nonmineral interests in those lands.
Consideration of effects of mining
Before issuing any uranium lease, the Secretary shall consider effects that mining under the proposed lease might have on an impacted community or area, including impacts on the environment, on agricultural, on cultural resources, and other economic activities, and on public services.
Notice of proposed lease
No lease sale shall be held for lands until after a notice of the proposed offering for lease has been given once a week for three consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the lands are situated, or in electronic format, in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Secretary.
All lands to be leased under this section shall be leased to the highest responsible qualified bidder—
under general regulations;
in units of not more than 2,560 acres that are as nearly compact as possible; and
by oral bidding.
A lease under this section shall be conditioned upon the payment by the lessee of—
a royalty at a rate of not less than 12.5 percent in amount or value of the production removed or sold under the lease; and
a rental of—
not less than $2.50 per acre per year for the first through fifth years of the lease; and
not less than $3 per acre per year for each year thereafter.
Use of revenues
Amounts received as revenues under this subsection with respect to a lease may be used by the Secretary of the Interior, subject to the availability of appropriations, for cleaning up uranium mill tailings and reclaiming abandoned uranium mines on Federal lands in accordance with the priorities and eligibility restrictions, respectively, under subsections (c) and (d) of section 411 of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (30 U.S.C. 1240a).
A lease under this section—
shall be effective for a primary term of 10 years; and
shall continue in effect after such primary term for so long is as uranium is produced under the lease in paying quantities.
The Secretary may, under such regulations as the Secretary may prescribe, issue to any person an exploration license. No person may conduct uranium exploration for commercial purposes on lands subject to this Act without such an exploration license. Each exploration license shall be for a term of not more than two years and shall be subject to a reasonable fee. An exploration license shall confer no right to a lease under this Act. The issuance of exploration licenses shall not preclude the Secretary from issuing uranium leases at such times and locations and to such persons as the Secretary deems appropriate. No exploration license may be issued for any land on which a uranium lease has been issued. A separate exploration license shall be required for exploration in each State. An application for an exploration license shall identify general areas and probable methods of exploration. Each exploration license shall be limited to specific geographic areas in each State as determined by the Secretary, and shall contain such reasonable conditions as the Secretary may require, including conditions to ensure the protection of the environment, and shall be subject to all applicable Federal, State, and local laws and regulations. Upon violation of any such conditions or laws the Secretary may revoke the exploration license.
A licensee may not cause substantial disturbance to the natural land surface. A licensee may not remove any uranium for sale but may remove a reasonable amount of uranium from the lands subject to this Act included under the Secretary’s license for analysis and study. A licensee must comply with all applicable rules and regulations of the Federal agency having jurisdiction over the surface of the lands subject to this Act. Exploration licenses covering lands the surface of which is under the jurisdiction of any Federal agency other than the Department of the Interior may be issued only upon such conditions as it may prescribe with respect to the use and protection of the nonmineral interests in those lands.
Sharing of data
The licensee shall furnish to the Secretary copies of all data (including geological, geophysical, and core drilling analyses) obtained during such exploration. The Secretary shall maintain the confidentiality of all data so obtained until after the areas involved have been leased or until such time as the Secretary determines that making the data available to the public would not damage the competitive position of the licensee, whichever comes first.
Exploration without a license
Any person who willfully conducts uranium exploration for commercial purposes on lands subject to this Act without an exploration license issued under this subsection shall be subject to a fine of not more than $1,000 for each day of violation. All data collected by such person on any Federal lands as a result of such violation shall be made immediately available to the Secretary, who shall make the data available to the public as soon as it is practicable. No penalty under this subsection shall be assessed unless such person is given notice and opportunity for a hearing with respect to such violation.
Conversion of mining claims to mineral leases
The owner of any
mining claim (in this subsection referred to as a
located prior to the date of enactment of this section may, within two years
after such date, apply to the Secretary of the Interior to convert the claim to
a lease under this section. The Secretary shall issue a uranium lease under
this section to the claimant upon a demonstration by the claimant, to the
satisfaction of the Secretary, within one year after the date of the
application to the Secretary, that the claim was, as of such date of enactment,
supported by the discovery of a valuable deposit of uranium on the claimed
land. The holder of a lease issued upon conversion from a mining claim under
this subsection shall be subject to all the requirements of this section
governing uranium leases, except that the holder shall pay a royalty of 6.25
percent on the value of the uranium produced under the lease, until beginning
ten years after the date the claim is converted to a lease.
Other claims extinguished
All mining claims located for uranium on Federal lands whose claimant does not apply to the Secretary for conversion to a lease, or whose claimant cannot make such a demonstration of discovery, shall become null and void by operation of law three years after such date of enactment.