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108th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session                                                    108-297

======================================================================



 
 REPEAL OF RESERVATION OF MINERAL RIGHTS, LIVINGSTON PARISH, LOUISIANA

                                _______
                                

October 7, 2003.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

  Mr. Pombo, from the Committee on Resources, submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 542]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

  The Committee on Resources, to whom was referred the bill 
(H.R. 542) to repeal the reservation of mineral rights made by 
the United States when certain lands in Livingston Parish, 
Louisiana, were conveyed by Public Law 102-562, having 
considered the same, report favorably thereon without amendment 
and recommend that the bill do pass.

                          Purpose of the Bill

    The purpose of H.R. 542 is to repeal the reservation of 
mineral rights made by the United States when certain lands in 
Livingston Parish, Louisiana, were conveyed by Public Law 102-
562.

                  Background and Need for Legislation

    The land in question was held in private ownership when the 
United States purchased the Louisiana Territory from France in 
1803. During the French Regime, Napoleonic Law maintained that 
all private land ownership applied exclusively to the surface 
rights, while subsurface (mineral) rights were the property of 
the French government. When Louisiana was purchased by the 
United States, and subsequently became a State in 1812, 
ownership of all privately held parcels of land entitled 
settlers to surface and mineral rights.
    For the United States and Louisiana to recognize a 
settler's right to a parcel of land, Congress required a 
Commissioner's Report to certify a settler's entitlement of 
possession. On March 3, 1819, Congress passed an act for 
``adjusting the claims to Land establishing land-offices in the 
District east of the island of New Orleans.'' Specifically, 
this act was designed to resolve disputes and claims in the 
southeastern region of Louisiana, north of New Orleans, where 
the land in question is located. Pursuant to this act, a 
Commissioner's Report was issued May 1, 1820, verifying the 
land owner's entitlement to land.
    On December 17, 1824, an Order of Survey was signed by a 
federal land agent further asserting the landowner's claim and 
specifically indicating the dimensions of the property. This 
and the Commissioner's Report are required before the United 
States would issue a land patent. For unknown reasons, these 
documents were not received in Washington, D.C.
    On December 2, 1875, the Surveyor General of the United 
States reasserted the land owner's claim to the property and 
acknowledged the clerical negligence of the register to provide 
all necessary information required for landowner's patent. For 
unknown reasons, these documents were not thoroughly processed, 
similar to numerous other patent cases in Louisiana, a State 
that at the time remained under federal military jurisdiction.
    From 1875 to 1970 the federal government neither issued the 
landowner a patent nor removed him from the property. In the 
late 1960s and early 1970s, the federal government surveyed the 
inventory of Louisiana properties and discovered no patent had 
been issued for the Livingston Parish property in question. 
During this time, Senator Allen Ellender attempted to resolve 
the matter, but passed away. The issue remained unattended 
until 1992 when Congressman Richard Baker and Senator J. Bennet 
Johnston passed legislation that became Public Law 102-948, 
which conveyed only the surface rights of the land, not the 
mineral rights. H.R. 3896 is designed to restore the mineral 
rights to the private landowners in Livingston Parish, 
Louisiana.

                            Committee Action

    H.R. 542 was introduced on February 5, 2003, by Richard H. 
Baker (R-LA). The bill was referred to the House Committee on 
Resources, and within the Committee to the Subcommittee on 
Energy and Mineral Resources. On October 1, 2003 the Full 
Resources Committee met to consider the bill. The Subcommittee 
was discharged from further consideration of the bill by 
unanimous consent. No amendments were offered and the bill was 
then ordered favorably reported to the House of Representatives 
by unanimous consent.

            Committee Oversight Fingings and Recommendations

    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 Resources' oversight findings and recommendations 
are reflected in the body of this report.

                   Constitutional Authority Statement

    Article I, section 8 of the Constitution of the United 
States grants Congress the authority to enact this bill.

                    Compliance With House Rule XIII

    1. Cost of Legislation. Clause 3(d)(2) 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)(3)(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.
    2. 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 tax 
expenditures. According to the Congressional Budget Office, 
enactment of H.R. 542 ``could result in forgone offsetting 
receipts (a credit against direct spending), but we estimate 
that any such effects would be negligible.''
    3. General Performance Goals and Objectives. This bill does 
not authorize funding and therefore, clause 3(c)(4) of rule 
XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives does not 
apply.
    4. Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate. 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:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                   Washington, DC, October 3, 2003.
Hon. Richard W. Pombo,
Chairman, Committee on Resources,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 542, a bill to 
repeal the reservation of mineral rights made by the United 
States when certain lands in Livingston Parish, Louisiana, were 
conveyed by Public Law 102-562.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contacts are Deborah 
Reis and Megan Carroll.
            Sincerely,
                                       Douglas Holtz-Eakin,
                                                          Director.
    Enclosure.

H.R. 542--A bill to repeal the reservation of mineral rights made by 
        the United States when certain lands in Livingston Parish, 
        Louisiana, were conveyed by Public Law 102-562

    CBO estimates that H.R. 542 would have no significant 
impact on the federal budget. Enacting the bill could result in 
forgone offsetting receipts (a credit against direct spending), 
but we estimate that any such effects would be negligible. H.R. 
542 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as 
defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and would have no 
significant impact on the budgets of state, local, or tribal 
governments.
    Public Law 102-562 directed the Secretary of the Interior 
to convey to private landowners the surface estate to 640 acres 
of federal lands in Louisiana. H.R. 542 would eliminate a 
provision in that law that reserved the mineral rights to those 
lands for the federal government. In doing so, the bill 
effectively would convey those rights to the owners of the 
surface estate.
    Conveying the rights to mineral resources could result in 
forgone offsetting receipts if, under current law, those 
resources would generate income from federal programs to 
develop them. According to the Bureau of Land Management, 
however, the agency currently collects no significant receipts 
from this land and does not expect to do so over the next 10 
years. Hence, CBO estimates that any forgone receipts under 
H.R. 542 would be negligible.
    The CBO staff contacts for this estimate are Deborah Reis 
and Megan Carroll. This estimate was approved by Peter H. 
Fontaine, Deputy Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

                    Compliance With Public Law 104-4

    This bill contains no unfunded mandates.

                Preemption of State, Local or Tribal Law

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

         Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported

  In compliance with clause 3(e) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, changes in existing law made by 
the bill, as reported, are shown as follows (existing law 
proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black brackets and 
existing law in which no change is proposed is shown in roman):

               SECTION 102 OF THE ACT OF OCTOBER 28, 1992


                          (Public Law 102-562)

AN ACT to authorize and direct the Secretary of the Interior to convey 
 certain lands in Livingston Parish, Louisiana, and for other purposes.

SEC. 102. CONVEYANCE OF LANDS.

  [(a) In General.--]Notwithstanding any other provision of 
law, [and subject to the reservation in subsection (b),] the 
United States hereby grants all right, title, and interest of 
the United States in and to certain lands in Livingston Parish, 
Louisiana, as described in section 103, to those parties who, 
as of the date of enactment of this Act, would be recognized as 
holders of a right, title, or interest to any portion of such 
lands under the laws of the State of Louisiana, but for the 
interest of the United States in such lands.
  [(b) Reservation of Mineral Rights.--The United States hereby 
excepts and reserves from the provisions of subsection (a) of 
this section, all minerals underlying such lands, along with 
the right to prospect for, mine, and remove the minerals under 
applicable law and such regulations as the Secretary of the 
Interior may prescribe.]