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Monday, December 31, 2012

Federal Lands: A Compendium



This Compendium contains a great deal of information on federal lands and consists of topics including federal land ownership; energy projects on federal lands; crude oil production; the national forest system roadless area initiatives; compensating state and local governments for the tax-exempt status of federal lands meaning what is fair and consistent. Also included is information about hunting, fishing, recreational shooting, grazing fees, and other wildlife measures on federal lands.

Conflicting public values concerning federal lands raise many questions and issues: how much land the federal government should own, how managers should balance conflicting uses and coordinate efforts to address large-scale impacts (such as climate change), whether Congress should protect specific areas, and when and how agencies should collect and distribute fees for land and resource uses.

Congress continues to examine these questions— particularly in assessing the various uses that might be made of the federal lands—through legislative proposals, program oversight, and annual appropriations for the four major federal land management agencies: the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), National Park Service (NPS), and Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in the Department of the Interior, and the Forest Service (FS) in the Department of Agriculture. These agencies have differing mandates, missions, and levels or degrees of resource protection on the lands they administer.


Date of Report: November 12, 2012
Number of Pages: 196
Order Number: C-12017
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Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act: Operation and Issues for Congress



Carol Hardy Vincent
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy

The Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act (FLTFA), which expired on July 25, 2011, provided for the sale or exchange of lands owned by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that have been identified for disposal under BLM’s land use plans. Most of the proceeds were to be used for land acquisition. The law’s goals included allowing for reconfiguration of land ownership patterns to better facilitate resource management, improving administrative efficiency, and increasing the effectiveness of the allocation of fiscal and human resources.

The authority to sell or exchange BLM lands under FLTFA was initially authorized for 10 years, expiring on July 25, 2010. When it expired, an estimated $52 million in the account ceased to be available for purposes of the law. These funds have not been reinstated in the FLTFA account. On July 29, 2010, the authority was subsequently extended for one year, expiring on July 25, 2011. Upon expiration, there was $2 million in the FLTFA account, which also ceased to be available.

An issue for Congress is whether to reauthorize the FLTFA authority and, if so, in what form. One question is the extent to which there is a need for this authority, given other laws authorizing the sale and acquisition of federal land and other sources of funding for these purposes. A second question is whether any extension of FLTFA should be relatively short (e.g., one year) or relatively long (e.g., 10 years or more). A third question is whether to continue to require land use plans as of July 25, 2000, to be used as the basis of land sales, or to allow updated plans to be used. A fourth set of questions relates to the retention and use of proceeds, including the extent to which any future proceeds should be retained by the agencies, used exclusively for land sales and acquisitions, and used primarily in the state in which they were generated, and whether the previously generated funds should be returned to the FLTFA fund.

The Obama Administration has proposed making FLTFA permanent, and using current land management plans for determining which lands to sell or exchange. S. 3525, S. 714, and H.R. 3365 would extend the law for varying numbers of years. In other respects they are similar, for instance, in allowing BLM to use updated land management plans to sell and exchange land.

Proceeds from the sale or exchange of BLM lands under FLTFA were split between the state in which the lands were disposed of (4%) and a separate Treasury account (96%). No more than 20% of the funds in the account could be used for administrative expenses. While BLM alone disposed of land, not less than 80% of the funds in the account were used by the four major federal land management agencies to acquire lands. In addition to BLM, these agencies were the Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, and Forest Service. The agencies could acquire inholdings and other non-federal lands (or interests therein) that are adjacent to federal lands and contain exceptional resources. Of the funds for acquisition, at least 80% were to be used in the state in which the funds were generated; remaining funds could be used in any state. Further, not less than 80% of the funds for land purchases within a state were for acquisition of inholdings.

From the enactment of FLTFA through FY2010, a total of $115.7 million was raised through the sale or exchange of BLM lands, and 25,967 acres were sold. Disposal of land under FLTFA was concentrated in Nevada and Oregon, with most of the revenues (76%) being generated in Nevada. Over the same period, about $63.7 million in funding was disbursed, of which $49.2 million was spent on the purchase of 18,135 acres (together with $9.7 million in other funds). The acquisition of lands and expenditures on acquisitions were less concentrated in particular states than land sales and receipts.


Date of Report: December 10, 2012
Number of Pages: 19
Order Number: R41863
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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Saltonstall-Kennedy Act: A Summary of the Law and Its Implementation



Eugene H. Buck
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy

The Saltonstall-Kennedy (S-K) Act of 1954 was created to provide consistent funding for commercial fisheries research and development. Funds are derived through the permanent appropriation of a portion of fishery import duties. Since its creation in 1954, authorizing language for how these funds might be used has been broadened to encompass objectives in addition to research and development, including a competitive grants program for the commercial fishing industry. In addition, the manner of allocating S-K funds through the annual federal appropriations process among various programs and uses has evolved. Congress has opted to use the annual appropriations processes in a flexible manner to address what are seen as the changing needs of the commercial fishing industry as well as those of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the federal agency that manages this industry and the marine resources on which it depends.

In 1976, Congress enacted the Fishery Conservation and Management Act (FCMA) to extend U.S. jurisdiction over fisheries to 200 miles from the U.S. coast so as to displace foreign fishermen who had been harvesting seafood from waters off the U.S. coast. In the late 1970s, NMFS initiated an annual competitive grant program using S-K funds, whereby projects by or cooperative agreements with the commercial fishing industry were selected to assist NMFS in addressing concerns related to fisheries research and development. Congress passed authorizing language for the competitive grants program in 1980 as part of the American Fisheries Promotion Act. In FY1979 appropriations, in part to deal with the added responsibilities under the FCMA, NMFS began receiving S-K funds as annual budgetary transfers to NOAA’s Operations, Research, and Facilities (OR&F) account. This allocation of S-K funds to internal NMFS programs, often at the expense of the competitive industry grants program, has been a recurrent issue of controversy and concern for some in the commercial fishing industry. To complicate the issue, congressional earmarks in the period between 2003 and 2006 effectively eliminated funding for the competitive grants program.

S-K programs are funded through a permanent appropriation and no periodic reauthorization is required. In addition, no recent congressional oversight hearings have been held to review the activities conducted under S-K authority or how S-K funds are allocated.

Questions arose in the 112
th Congress as to whether the U.S. commercial fishing industry might benefit from further expansion of the activities that S-K funding could support. Some of the attention to S-K funds in the 112th Congress stemmed from renewed interest in seafood marketing, particularly related to how a national program to promote seafood might be funded, including whether S-K funds might play a role in funding such an effort.


Date of Report: December 5, 2012
Number of Pages: 10
Order Number: RS21799
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Friday, December 21, 2012

U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea: Living Resources Provisions



Eugene H. Buck
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) was agreed to in 1982, but the United States never became a signatory nation. The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations reported UNCLOS on December 19, 2007. The Senate may choose to address the ambiguities of UNCLOS with its power to make declarations and statements, as provided for in Article 310 of the Convention. Such declarations and statements can be useful in promulgating U.S. policy and putting other nations on notice of U.S. interpretation of UNCLOS.

In the 111
th Congress, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on January 13, 2009, acknowledged that U.S. accession to UNCLOS would be an Obama Administration priority. Later in this confirmation hearing, Senator John Kerry, the committee chair, confirmed that UNCLOS would also be a committee priority. However, the Senate took no action on UNCLOS during the 111th Congress. In the 112th Congress, the Administration continued to encourage Senate action on UNCLOS, and Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, was guardedly optimistic.

A possible benefit of U.S. ratification would be the international community’s anticipated positive response to such U.S. action. In addition, early U.S. participation in the development of policies and practices of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, and the International Seabed Authority could help to forestall future problems related to living marine resources. On the other hand, some U.S. interests view U.S. ratification as potentially complicating enforcement of domestic marine regulations, and remain concerned that UNCLOS’s language concerning arbitrary refusal of access to surplus (unallocated) living resources might be a potential source of conflict (in addition to concerns about other provisions of the Convention). These uncertainties reflect the absence of any comprehensive assessment of the social and economic impacts of UNCLOS implementation by the United States.

This report describes provisions of UNCLOS relating to living marine resources and discusses how these provisions comport with current U.S. marine policy. As presently understood and interpreted, these provisions generally appear to reflect current U.S. policy with respect to living marine resource management, conservation, and exploitation. Based on these interpretations, they are generally seen as not imposing significant new U.S. obligations, commitments, or encumbrances, and are seen as providing several new privileges, primarily related to participation in commissions developing international ocean policy. No new domestic legislation appears to be required to implement the living resources provisions of UNCLOS.



Date of Report: December 3, 2012
Number of Pages: 14
Order Number: RL32185
Price: $29.95

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Endangered Species: A Compendium



This Compendium explores the major features and controversies of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). It covers areas such as funding and exemptions. It demonstrates how science has been used in selected cases and offers a discussion of the nature and role of science in general, and its role in the ESDA process in particular, together with general and agency information quality requirements and policies, and a review of how the courts have viewed agency use of science.

Detailed coverage is provided the polar bear, Columbia Basin salmon and steelhead trout, Pacific salmon and steelhead trout, bald eagle, gray wolves, sage grouse, and whale populations.

The ESA has been among the most contentious environmental laws because of its strict substantive provisions. Increasing numbers of animal and plant species face possible extinction. These species are valued for ecological, educational, scientific, recreational, spiritual, aesthetic, and (in some cases) economic reasons. Some contend that because the loss of species could have predictable and unpredictable social and economic effects, all species should be saved. Others disagree, and hold that the cost to society to save species is concrete and large, while the benefits are vague. Protection of endangered and threatened species—and the law that protects them, the 1973 Endangered Species Act (ESA, 16 U.S.C. §§1531-1543)—are controversial, in part, because dwindling species are often indicators of competition for scarce resources.

Date of Report: November 19, 2012
Number of Pages: 262
Order Number: C-12018
Price: $59.95

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