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H.R. 3905, Minnesota’s Economic rights in the Superior National Forest Act

Floor Situation

On Wednesday, November 29, 2017, the House will consider H.R. 3905, the Minnesota’s Economic rights in the Superior National Forest Act, under a structured rule. The bill was introduced on October 2, 2017 by Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN) and was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources which ordered the bill to be reported by a vote of 17-13 on November 8, 2017.


Summary

H.R. 3905 would require Congressional approval for mineral withdrawal and monument designation in National Forest System lands in the Minnesota. The bill would allow for the renewal of mineral leases in the area and would ensure that future leases remain valid and renewed, consistent with current law. Finally, the bill excludes the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness from these provisions and requires environmental review of any leases issued under the bill.


Background

In January of 2017 the Obama Administration proposed a federal mineral withdrawal of National Forest System lands in the Superior National Forest. The proposal would place 425,000 acre area off limits to development for up to two years while the withdrawal is considered[1]. This land includes 95,000 acres of state school trust fund lands. The Minnesota Constitution mandates that state trust lands ensure a long-term source of funds for K-12 education. Minnesota is projected to lose up to $3 billion in royalty revenues for the State’s Permanent School Trust Fund if the proposed withdrawal application continues[2].

In addition, the Obama Administration Bureau of Land Management rejected the renewal for two hard rock mineral leases in Minnesota’s Superior National Forest that were signed in 1966 and renewed in 1989 and 2004[3]. If left unchecked, these actions are estimated to block the creation of 17,000 jobs and an estimated generation of $2.5 billion annually for the economy[4]. 

According to the bill’s sponsor, “In their final hours, the Obama Administration enacted a series of harmful and reckless policies, which have hindered our ability to utilize our state’s abundance of natural resources and bring jobs to a part of our state that badly needs them. I know that we can responsibly mine and bring jobs back to this region without destroying the forests, lakes and streams that all Minnesotans hold dear.[5]”

A similar amendment was unanimously adopted and added to H.R. 3354.


Amendments

  1. Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) – This amendment increases the royalty rate by 16.66% for mineral leases in the Superior National Forest. 

Cost

 The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates would increase offsetting receipts, which are treated as reductions in direct spending, by $2 million over the 2018-2027 period.


Staff Contact

For questions about amendments or further information on the bill, contact Dominique Yantko with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 3-1555.


[1] See Rep. Emmer’s Press Release, June 2017.
[2] Id.
[3] Id.
[4] Id.
[5] See Rep. Emmer’s Press Release, October 2017. 

115th Congress