November 6, 1997
The Administration strongly opposes S. 660 and, if it were presented to the
President, the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture would recommend
that the bill be vetoed.
S. 660 would direct the Secretary of the Interior to convey, as a "grant", up to 250,000 acres of Federal land in the State of Alaska. The land is to be selected by, and conveyed to, the University of Alaska. Further, the bill would direct the Secretary to convey an additional 250,000 acres chosen by the University if the State were to match the Federal land grant with an equal amount of land. The University could choose virtually any Federal lands in Alaska. As a result, the University could gain title to some of the Nation?s premier public lands, including land in National Petroleum Reserve and the Tongass National Forest.
The United States has fully discharged its responsibilities to the State of Alaska for lands entitlement. When statehood was granted, Congress provided Alaska with 102.5 million acres of land, more than four times the amount of Federal land provided to any other State. In giving the State a land entitlement of 102.5 million acres, Congress made clear that it was extinguishing and fully satisfying previous university land entitlements and that it was the State's responsibility to determine the appropriate land endowment for Alaska's university system. Subsequent decisions made by the State concerning the allocation of lands for the university system were freely made in Alaska, by Alaskans.
Depending on the tracts selected, the loss of Federal revenue caused by S. 660 could be significant. In addition, S. 660 could have a profound impact on sensitive Federal lands including the Steese National Conservation Area, the White Mountains National Recreation Area, and the premier U.S. temperate rain forest located in southeastern Alaska.
S. 660 would affect off-setting receipts; therefore, it is subject to the pay-as-you-go requirement of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990. OMB?s scoring estimate of this bill is under development.
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