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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-
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,
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.]