Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutionsby Senator Dianne Feinstein
Posted on 2013-12-20
S. 1888. A bill to facilitate a land exchange involving certain
National Forest System land in the Inyo National Forest, and for other
purposes; to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, I rise today to introduce the Inyo National Forest Land Exchange Act.
This legislation will facilitate a land exchange between the operators of the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area in the Eastern Sierra Nevada region of California and the Inyo National Forest. Enactment of this bill will allow the ski resort to redevelop the parcel of land it currently leases from Forest Service, while providing the Forest Service with a combination of high resource value lands and a cash payment equal to the value of the exchanged land.
Since the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, LLC, MMSA, began operations in 1953, Mammoth Mountain has grown to be one of the most popular ski areas in the United States, attracting up to two million visitors a year.
However, the Main Lodge area, which is located on approximately 21 acres of land leased by MMSA, has become outdated and inadequate to meet visitor needs. The Main Lodge building and Mammoth Mountain Inn are now more than 50 years old and require significant improvements and upgrades. Insufficient employee housing, parking and guest amenities must be corrected and skier staging and lift line queuing areas must be modernized. In order to make the necessary long-term investments, resort operators are seeking fee title to the land and have been working with the Inyo National Forest since 1998 to complete a land exchange.
Equal-value land exchanges involving Forest Service land are permitted under the Exchange Act. However, the typical land exchange procedures do not conform well to this particular exchange due to the complexity, size and scarcity of large, high resource value parcels in the Inyo National Forest. Consequently, this legislation would authorize a one-time exception to the Exchange Act to accomplish the proposed land exchange. Specifically, the bill would require the Secretary of Agriculture to acquire two parcels of private land outside, totaling approximately 1,500 acres, the boundary the Inyo National Forest in exchange for the conveyance of the 21 acre parcel within the forest currently leased to MMSA; accept a cash equalization payment in excess of the 25 percent value of the federal lands to fully compensate the Forest Service for the exchanged lands; and use the cash payment to acquire land or interests in land for additions to the National Forest System as such lands become available.
This bill will provide both economic and environmental benefits. The new construction that this bill will help facilitate will not only create new construction jobs during renovations, but will also allow the Ski Area to expand and improve its operations, creating more sustainable and permanent jobs. Additionally, the land MMSA will be transferring to the Forest Service includes high resource value lands that have long been desired for protection by local environmentalists and the Forest Service. This includes lands within the view shed of the Mono Basin [[Page S9107]] National Scenic Area, the first designated National Scenic Area and a place of incredible natural beauty.
This legislation has bipartisan support. The bill was first introduced by Rep. Buck McKeon in June 2011 and passed the House in April 2012 by a vote of 376--2. It was reintroduced by Rep. Paul Cook earlier this year with the support of both Democratic and Republican cosponsors and passed the House a second time on December 3, 2013.
Local government and community organizations also support this legislation, including the Mono County Board of Supervisors, the Mammoth Lakes Town Council, the Mammoth Lakes Chamber of Commerce, Mammoth Lakes Tourism, the Mono Lake Committee, and the Eastern Sierra Land Trust.
This trade has long been supported by noted environmentalists, including the late Andrea Mead Lawrence, after whom Congress earlier this year named a mountain in the nearby Sierra Nevada.
I urge my colleagues to support this legislation. Enactment of this bill will ensure the long term success of one of the Nation's top ski resorts and benefit the local and regional economy, while allowing the Forest Service to acquire high resource value lands that will be enjoyed by Americans for generations to come.
Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the Record.
There being no objection, the text of the bill was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows: S. 1888 Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ``Inyo National Forest Land Exchange Act''.
SEC. 2. PURPOSE.
The purpose of this Act is to modify the use of land exchange authorities available to the Secretary of Agriculture as of the date of enactment of this Act with respect to certain land in the Inyo National Forest, California.
SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.
In this section: (1) Federal land.--The term ``Federal land'' means certain National Forest System land located within the boundaries of the Inyo National Forest, California, as depicted on the map entitled ``Federal Parcel'' and dated June 2011.
(2) Non-federal land.--The term ``non-Federal land'' means certain non-Federal land in California located outside the boundaries of the Inyo National Forest, California, as depicted on the maps entitled ``DWP Parcel-Interagency Visitor Center Parcel'' and ``DWP Parcel-Town of Bishop Parcel'' and dated June 2011.
(3) Secretary.--The term ``Secretary'' means the Secretary of Agriculture.
SEC. 4. SPECIAL RULES FOR INYO NATIONAL FOREST LAND EXCHANGE.
(a) Authority to Accept Land Outside Boundaries of Inyo National Forest.--In any land exchange involving the conveyance of the Federal land, the Secretary may accept the conveyance of the non-Federal land in exchange for the conveyance of the Federal land, if the Secretary determines that acquisition of the non-Federal land is desirable for National Forest System purposes.
(b) Cash Equalization Payment; Use.-- (1) In general.--In an exchange of land under subsection (a), the Secretary may accept a cash equalization payment in excess of 25 percent of the value of the Federal land.
(2) Disposition and use of funds.--Any cash equalization payment received by the Secretary under this subsection shall be-- (A) deposited into the fund established under Public Law 90-171 (commonly known as the ``Sisk Act'') (16 U.S.C. 484a); and (B) available to the Secretary for the acquisition of land or interests in land for addition to the National Forest System.
(c) No New Land Exchange Authority.--Nothing in this section grants the Secretary new land exchange authority.
______ By Mrs. FEINSTEIN (for herself and Mr. Hatch): S. 1889. A bill to direct the United States Sentencing Commission with respect to penalties for the unlawful production of a controlled substance on Federal property or intentional trespass on the property of another that causes environmental damage; to the Committee on the Judiciary.
Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, I rise to introduce the Protecting Lands Against Narcotics Trafficking or PLANT Act of 2013 with my colleague and friend, Senator Orrin Hatch.
This bill, which is similar to House legislation introduced by Representative Jared Huffman, will help curb the severe environmental damage caused by illegal marijuana grows. I thank my friend and fellow Californian, Representative Huffman, for his leadership on this issue.
Across our Nation, but especially in California, drug traffickers cultivate marijuana with zero regard for the environmental destruction it causes. Motivated solely by profits, these criminals illegally divert streams, poison wildlife, pollute watersheds and destroy the natural heritage that we have worked so hard to protect.
Recognizing the destructive ecological impact of illegal marijuana cultivation, this legislation directs the United States Sentencing Commission to review and amend Federal sentencing guidelines to account for the environmental crimes drug traffickers commit on public and trespassed lands.
Specifically, the bill instructs the Sentencing Commission to put in place sentencing guidelines that increase penalties for individuals who engage in any of the following activities while cultivating illegal drugs on Federal lands or while trespassing on another person's property: Use of poisons or hazardous chemicals, such as pesticides and rodenticides; the diversion, redirection, obstruction, draining or impoundment of local aquifers, rivers or bodies of water; or significant removal of vegetation or clear cutting of timber.
In addition to environmental concerns, this legislation addresses the safety of our public lands. It directs the Sentencing Commission to provide guidelines increasing penalties on drug traffickers who use or possess a firearm while producing illegal drugs on federal or trespassed lands.
Last year alone, over 900,000 marijuana plants were eradicated at 471 sites on National Forest Lands. Sadly, this represents only a fraction of the total marijuana illegally grown in our National Parks, Forests and other public lands. In California, Operation Pristine, a recent effort to combat the environmental damage caused by illegal marijuana production, resulted in the removal of over 8,700 tons of trash including pesticides, batteries, fertilizers and propane tanks from environmentally sensitive lands.
Drug traffickers often use illegal pesticides smuggled in from Mexico, such as carbofuran, which contaminate California's water resources. They also use pesticides and rodenticides in an illegal manner, often on protected lands. These poisons are having a devastating impact on California's wildlife, including the Pacific Fisher, a member of the Weasel family being considered for listing as an endangered species.
Taxpayers are also being hit hard by the millions of dollars needed to clean up the environmental damage caused by illegal marijuana grows. Estimates put the cost of reclaiming land damaged by illicit marijuana growth at approximately $15,000 per acre. As you might expect, drug traffickers are not setting aside funds for this work, and the cost is passed on to the American people.
Illicit marijuana cultivation also damages the economy and hurts legitimate businesses. Timber companies, farmers and ranchers have had their operations disrupted by criminals growing marijuana illegally. Marijuana growers on agricultural lands, particularly in the Central Valley, divert thousands of gallons of scarce water from legitimate agriculture. In 2013 alone, California has identified over 1,800 grow sites in the Central Valley, including 406 in Tulare County and 537 in Fresno as of November.
As Chairman of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control and also as a Senator who has worked to safeguard our country's natural resources, I believe that we cannot allow drug traffickers to destroy our public lands, pollute our waters and kill our wildlife with impunity. It is time that sentencing guidelines take into account the environmental damage that drug traffickers all too often cause. This legislation, directing the Sentencing Commission to review and amend its guidelines, will do just that.
Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the Record.
There being no objection, the text of the bill was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows: S. 1889 Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, [[Page S9108]] SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ``Protecting Lands Against Narcotics Trafficking Act of 2013'' or the ``PLANT Act''.
SEC. 2. CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES ACT PENALTY AMENDMENTS.
(a) Cultivating or Manufacturing Controlled Substances on Federal Property.--Section 401(b)(5) of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 841(b)(5)) is amended, in the matter preceding subparagraph (A), by striking ``as provided in this subsection'' and inserting ``for not more than 10 years, in addition to any other term of imprisonment imposed under this subsection''.
(b) Use of Hazardous Substances.--Pursuant to its authority under section 994 of title 28, United States Code, the United States Sentencing Commission shall amend and review the Federal Sentencing Guidelines and policy statements to ensure that the guidelines provide for a penalty enhancement of not less than 1 offense level for a violation of section 401(a) of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 841(a)) while on Federal property or intentionally trespassing on the property of another if the offense-- (1) includes the use of a poison, chemical, or other hazardous substance to cultivate or manufacture controlled substances on Federal property; (2) creates a hazard to humans, wildlife, or domestic animals; (3) degrades or harms the environment or natural resources; or (4) pollutes an aquifer, spring, stream, river, or body of water.
(c) Stream Diversion or Clear Cutting on Federal Property.-- (1) Prohibition on stream diversion or clear cutting on federal property.--Section 401(b) of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 841(b)), as amended by subsection (a), is amended by adding at the end the following: ``(8) Destruction of bodies of water.--Any person who violates subsection (a) in a manner that diverts, redirects, obstructs, or drains an aquifer, spring, stream, river, or body of water or clear cuts timber while cultivating or manufacturing a controlled substance on Federal property or while intentionally trespassing on the property of another shall be fined in accordance with title 18, United States Code.''.
(2) Federal sentencing guidelines enhancement.--Pursuant to its authority under section 994 of title 28, United States Code, the United States Sentencing Commission shall review and amend the Federal Sentencing Guidelines and policy statements to ensure that the guidelines provide for a penalty enhancement of not less than 1 offense level for a violation of section 401(a) of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 841(a)) if the offense involves the diversion, redirection, obstruction, or draining of an aquifer, spring, stream, river, or body of water or the clear cut of timber while cultivating or manufacturing a controlled substance on Federal property or while intentionally trespassing on the property of another.
(d) Booby Traps on Federal Land.--Section 401(d)(1) of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 841(d)(1)) is amended by inserting ``cultivated,'' after ``is being''.
(e) Use or Possession of Firearms in Connection With Drug Offenses on Federal Lands.--Pursuant to its authority under section 994 of title 28, United States Code, the United States Sentencing Commission shall review and amend the Federal Sentencing Guidelines and policy statements to ensure that the guidelines provide for a penalty enhancement of not less than 1 offense level for a violation of section 401(a) of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 841(a)) if the offense involves the possession of a firearm while cultivating or manufacturing controlled substances on Federal lands or intentionally trespassing on the property of another.
______ By Ms. COLLINS (for herself and Mr. King): S. 1892. A bill to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a registry of certain veterans who were stationed at or underwent training at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, New Brunswick, Canada, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.