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S. 2560 - Reclamation Title Transfer Act of 2018

Introduced: 2018-03-15
Bill Status: Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. Calendar No. 681.
 
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Full Text


115th CONGRESS
2d Session
S. 2560


    To authorize the Secretary of the Interior to establish a program to facilitate the transfer to non-Federal ownership of appropriate reclamation projects or facilities, and for other purposes.


IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

March 15, 2018

    Mr. Risch introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources


A BILL

    To authorize the Secretary of the Interior to establish a program to facilitate the transfer to non-Federal ownership of appropriate reclamation projects or facilities, and for other purposes.

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 “Reclamation Title Transfer Act of 2018”.

SEC. 2. Purpose.

The purpose of this Act is to facilitate the transfer of title to eligible facilities to qualifying entities that have completed the repayment of the capital costs of the eligible facilities through capital repayment contracts with Reclamation.

SEC. 3. Definitions.

In this Act:

(1) CONVEYED PROPERTY.—The term “conveyed property” means an eligible facility that has been conveyed to a qualifying entity under section 4.

(2) ELIGIBLE FACILITY.—The term “eligible facility” means a facility that meets the criteria for potential transfer established under section 5(a).

(3) FACILITY.—

(A) IN GENERAL.—The term “facility” means—

(i) a Reclamation project or facility; or

(ii) a portion of a Reclamation project or facility.

(B) INCLUSIONS.—The term “facility” includes a dam or appurtenant works, infrastructure, a recreational facility, a building, a distribution and drainage works, and associated land or interest in land or water.

(C) EXCLUSIONS.—The term “facility” does not include a Reclamation project or facility, or a portion of a Reclamation project or facility, that—

(i) generates hydropower marketed by a Federal power marketing administration; or

(ii) is managed for recreation under a lease, permit, license, or other management agreement that does contribute to capital repayment.

(4) QUALIFYING ENTITY.—The term “qualifying entity” means an agency of a State or political subdivision of a State, a joint action or powers agency, a water users association, or an Indian Tribe or Tribal utility authority that—

(A) as of the date of conveyance under this Act, is the current operator of the conveyed facility pursuant to a contract with Reclamation; and

(B) as determined by the Secretary, has the capacity to continue to manage the conveyed property for the same purposes for which the property has been managed under the reclamation laws.

(5) RECLAMATION.—The term “Reclamation” means the Bureau of Reclamation.

(6) SECRETARY.—The term “Secretary” means the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the Commissioner of Reclamation.

SEC. 4. Authorization of transfers of titles to eligible facilities.

(a) In general.—Subject to the requirements of this section, the Secretary, without further authorization from Congress, may convey to a qualifying entity all right, title, and interest of the United States in and to any eligible facility, if—

(1) not later than 90 days before the date on which the Secretary makes the conveyance, the Secretary submits to Congress—

(A) a written notice of the proposed conveyance; and

(B) a description of the reasons for the conveyance; and

(2) a joint resolution disapproving the conveyance is not enacted before the date on which the Secretary makes the conveyance.

(b) Reservation of easement.—The Secretary may reserve an easement over a conveyed property if—

(1) the Secretary determines that the easement is necessary for the management of any interests retained by the Federal Government under this Act;

(2) a portion of the conveyed property remains under Federal ownership; and

(3) the Secretary enters into an agreement regarding the easement with the applicable qualifying entity.

(c) Interests in water.—The Federal interest in associated water rights and uses relating to a conveyed property, if any, shall be conveyed under this section in accordance with applicable State law pursuant to a written agreement between the Secretary and the applicable qualifying entity.

SEC. 5. Eligibility criteria.

(a) Establishment.—The Secretary shall establish criteria for determining whether a facility is eligible for conveyance under this Act.

(b) Minimum requirements.—

(1) AGREEMENT OF QUALIFYING ENTITY.—The criteria established under subsection (a) shall include a requirement that a qualifying entity shall agree—

(A) to accept title to the eligible facility;

(B) to use the eligible facility for substantially the same purposes for which the eligible facility is being used at the time the Secretary evaluates the potential transfer; and

(C) to provide, as consideration for the assets to be conveyed, compensation to the reclamation fund established by the first section of the Act of June 17, 1902 (32 Stat. 388, chapter 1093), in an amount that is the equivalent of the net present value of any repayment obligation to the United States or other income stream that the United States derives from the eligible facility to be transferred, as of the date of the transfer.

(2) DETERMINATIONS OF SECRETARY.—The criteria established under subsection (a) shall include a requirement that the Secretary shall—

(A) be able to enter into an agreement with the qualifying entity with respect to the legal, institutional, and financial arrangements relating to the conveyance; and

(B) determine that the proposed transfer—

(i) would not have an unmitigated significant effect on the environment;

(ii) is consistent with the responsibilities of the Secretary—

(I) to protect land and water resources held in trust for federally recognized Indian Tribes; and

(II) to ensure compliance with any applicable international treaties and interstate compacts; and

(iii) is in the financial interest of the United States.

(3) STATUS OF RECLAMATION LAND.—The criteria established under subsection (a) shall require that any land to be conveyed out of Federal ownership under this Act is—

(A) land acquired by the Secretary; or

(B) land withdrawn by the Secretary, only if—

(i) the Secretary determines in writing that the withdrawn land is encumbered by facilities to the extent that the withdrawn land is unsuitable for return to the public domain; and

(ii) the qualifying entity agrees to pay fair market value based on historical or existing uses for the withdrawn land to be conveyed.

SEC. 6. Liability.

(a) In general.—Except as provided in subsection (b), effective beginning on the date of conveyance of any eligible facility under this Act, the United States shall not be liable under any law for damages of any kind arising out of any act, omission, or occurrence based on the prior ownership or operation of the conveyed property.

(b) Limitation.—The United States shall retain the responsibilities and authorities of the United States for a conveyed property based on the prior ownership or operation of the conveyed property by the United States under Federal environmental laws, including the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (42 U.S.C. 9601 et seq.).

SEC. 7. Benefits.

After a conveyance of an eligible facility under this Act—

(1) the conveyed property shall no longer be considered to be part of a Reclamation project; and

(2) if the transfer of an entire Reclamation project occurs pursuant to such a conveyance, the qualifying entity to which the conveyed property is conveyed shall not be eligible to receive any benefits, including project power, with respect to the conveyed property, except for any benefit that would be available to a similarly situated entity with respect to property that is not a part of a Reclamation project.

SEC. 8. Compliance with other laws.

(a) Operation of conveyed property.—After conveyance of an eligible facility under this Act, the qualifying entity to which the conveyed property is conveyed shall comply with all applicable Federal, State, and local laws (including regulations) in the operation of the conveyed property.

(b) Federal environmental laws applicable to title transfer.—For purposes of achieving compliance with Federal environmental laws (including regulations) applicable to a transfer of title under this Act, the Federal agency action shall be limited to the change in ownership status of an applicable eligible facility if the ability of the applicable qualifying entity to alter the existing uses or operations of the conveyed property after the conveyance is limited due to the fact that—

(1) any modification to the purpose or location of applicable water use would require a modification of a State-issued water right that requires action by the State in which the eligible facility is located; or

(2) any modification to the purpose or operation of the eligible facility requires an action by a qualifying entity that is constrained by applicable requirements that were established—

(A) by an applicable State legislature, State regulatory agency, publicly elected board, appointed board, or other related entity; and

(B) through a public process or other, similar procedure that constrains, or imposes public scrutiny or additional accountability on, the ability of the qualifying entity to carry out such a modification.

SEC. 9. Authorization of appropriations.

(a) In general.—There are authorized to be appropriated to carry out this Act such sums as are necessary.

(b) Use of amounts.—Amounts made available under subsection (a) may be used—

(1) to carry out any investigations appropriate to carry out this Act; and

(2) to pay any other costs associated with conveyances under this Act, including an appropriate Federal share, as determined by the Secretary, of the costs of compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and any other applicable law.

(c) Not treated as project costs.—Expenditures made by the Secretary under this Act—

(1) shall not be a project cost assignable to a Reclamation project; and

(2) shall be nonreimbursable.


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