Company update: US House of Representatives passes FY2017 House Interior Appropriations Bill

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Company update: US House of Representatives passes FY2017 House Interior Appropriations Bill

Category : News

Bill includes Language Addressing Scope of Railroad Right-of-way over federal lands

On July 14, 2016, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the fiscal year 2017 Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill (H.R.5538), which includes annual funding for the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, the US Forest Service, and various related agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management.

The bill includes the following language in the base text of the bill that is germane to the work of these agencies and clarifies the scope of railroad right-of-ways over federal lands more specifically the allowable uses by third parties of these existing corridors.

“…Provided further, That the Secretary shall approve any use of a right-of-way granted pursuant to the General Railroad Right-of-Way Act of 1875 (43 U.S.C. 934–939) if authorization of the use would have been considered under Department policy to be within the scope of a railroad’s authority as of the day before the effective date of the Department’s Solicitor’s Opinion M–37025, issued on November 4, 2011. (page 8)

…SEC. 115. None of the funds made available by this or any other Act may be used by the Secretary of the Interior to review, require approval of, or withhold approval for use of a right-of-way granted pursuant to the General Railroad Right-of-Way Act of 1875 (43 U.S.C. 934–939) if authorization of the use would have been considered under Department policy to be within the scope of a railroad’s authority as of the day before the effective date of the Department’s Solicitor’s Opinion M–37025, issued on November 4, 2011.”(page 60)”

The Cadiz Water Project’s proposed use of 43 miles of the Arizona & California Railroad Company right-of-way for a water conveyance pipeline was described to be within the right-of-way’s scope by the US Department of the Interior in 2009, prior to the November 2011 Opinion M–37025. To view this letter, click HERE.

The House passed H.R. 5538 now moves forward to be conferenced with the Senate version of the bill this fall. The Senate has not yet passed its FY2017 Interior appropriations bill. Fiscal Year 2017 begins on October 1, 2016 and Congress is expected to complete its appropriations work for all federal agencies prior to that deadline.

For the text of the bill, please visit:
http://appropriations.house.gov/uploadedfiles/bills-114hr-fc-ap-fy2017-ap00-interior.pdf

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