GREAT LAND GRAB
PART 1 of 2
Jon Christian Ryter
May 25, 2011
The first wildcat well drilled in Alaska was sunk just south of present-day Anchorage on the shores of Cook Inlet in 1896. The discovery well was a dry hole. It produced a modest amount of oil, but at levels insufficient to justify development. Six years later a gusher was drilled at Katalla on the Gulf of Alaska by a British businessman. The well came in on Sept. 18, 1902 with a gusher that shot 200 feet into the air. A refinery was built in the Katalla Oil Field by the Amalgamated Development Company which bought out the Brit's interests. In 1920 with the passage of the Minerals Leasing Act, the St. Elias Oil Co., which now owned the oil field, sold out to the Chilkat Oil Company. The sale of Alaskan Territory oil to to US oil refiners dwindled to almost nothing during the Roaring 20s with the discovery of vast new oil fields in Oklahoma and Texas. On Christmas Day, 1933 a gas leak reportedly caused an explosion that destroyed not only the Chilkat oil refinery but the power plant that fueled electricity to the Katalla settlement. In the 30 years the Katalla oil field existed, it produced a total of 154,000 barrels of oil—eequal to about 16% of one day's production from the North Slope oilfields today. Oil. Natural gas. Coal. Gold. Silver. Copper. Uranium. And scores of lesser known minerals that play a key role in the development of the electronic age. Mineral wealth. Right under our feet.
On Tuesday, March 2, 2010, The Washington Times reported receiving a secret 21-page Obama Administration memo that revealed plans by the federal government to seize several million acres of land in several Western States. Since that memo was issued last year, the amount of land being targeted for seizure by the Obama Administration quickly escalated from 10 million to 220 million acres. The document, marked "Internal Draft—Not For Release" named 14 different lands Obama coould close to any form of development by unilaterally designating them as "national monuments" under the much abused Antiquities Act of 1906 (Public Law 16 USC 431-433) which was legislated to protect prehistoric Indian ruins and artifacts in the American West.
The Antiquities bill was proffered in 1906 by Congressman John F. Lacy, Chairman of the House Committee on Public Lands to allow the President, by Executive Order, to restrict the use of public lands already owned by the federal government. While Lacy expected those restricted areas to be small—like an old Indian burial ground here or a prehistoric Indian village there—that's not what happened. Or, you might say, the government—growing greeddier by the year—simply "grew into" the land grab they now use to steal the weealth of America from the people for the self-appointed caretakers of America...the princes of industry and the barons of banking and business.
Social Progressive President Teddy Roosevelt, who saw the Antiquities Act as the perfect devise to arbitrarily seize millions of acres of land containing countless billions of dollars of mineral wealth for the federal government, even though the bill specifically stated that the national monuments the Act was designed to protect "...are to be confined to the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected." Congress gave the President the power to create national monuments by Executive Order to quickly protect archeological finds from being pillaged and decimated before Congress could enact legislation to protect them. The president who signed the Antiquities Act into law on June 8, 1906, Teddy Roosevelt, was the first President to abuse it. Where Lacy and the US Congress tried to save an archeological dig in Iowa, Roosevelt strutted his newfound power and created a 1,346.91 acre national monument called Devil's Tower in the Black Hills in Crock County, Wyoming.
The power presidents possess under the Antiquities Act of 1906 was twice reduced. The first time was in 1943 when Franklin D. Roosevelt caved in to a request by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. When Rockefeller and his family visited Jackson Hole, Rockefeller decided if something drastic wasn't done, what he saw as a historic treasure would become overdeveloped and converted into a tawdry tourist site. Rockefeller purchased as many tracts of land as he could around Jackson Hole and donated them to the federal government. Taking his cue from Rockefeller, Roosevelt issued an Executive Order and created the Jackson Hole National Monument, angering Jackson Hole residents and State legislators alike because there was absolutely no national interest in preserving Jackson Hole for posterity. It was merely the fetish of the richest man in America who wanted to create a national monument for his family to enjoy.
Federal legislation was written to de-establish the Jackson Hole National Monument. FDR vetoed the bill. In 1950 Harry S. Truman signed a bill that de-established the Jackson Hole National Monument, but instead of returning control of the land to the State of Wyoming, Truman incorporated it into the newly created 310,000 acre Grand Teton National Park.
The second time was on Jan. 25, 1980 when, pushed by environmentalists who were bankrolled by banking and oil financier and oil mogul David Rockefeller, Jimmy Carter used the Antiquities Act to create the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to prevent anyone from exercising thousand of oil leases along the North Slope of Alaska.
With a slash of his pen, Carter privatized 56 million acres of public land in the name of the federal government which has now been confirmed to contain more untapped oil wealth than that which has been found in all existing producing US wells in the lower 48. Anytime the princes of industry want to activate the oil leases they own along the North Slope all they will do is swap worthless land elsewhere for the most valuable land in the United States—but only when they are ready to tap intoo what was, in 1980, the world's largest known oil reserves. Congress responded to Carter's land grab on behalf of the Seven Sisters by passing the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservative Act which now requires congressional approval of the seizing of more than 5,000 acres of land under the Antiquities Act.
Two presidents after Carter created national monuments as political payoffs. Both presidents gave away far more than 5,000 acres. On Sept. 18, 1996 President Bill Clinton scribbled a Presidential Proclamation and stole 1.7 million acres (2,700 square miles) of Utah and Arizona from the people of the United States, creating the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. While Clinton used the fact that several dinosaur fossils were found in the Grand Staircase-Escalante area over the years to justify creating a national monument, in reality, his land seizure was a political payoff to People's Republic of China-connected Indonesian banker and businessman Mochtar Riady. Riady wanted to corner the global low sulfur anthracite coal market. The problem is, the US and Canada hold 38.2% of the world's coal. South Asia has 8%. To corner the anthracite coal market, Riady needed to shut down the anthracite coal market in the United States.
The nation's largest reserves of anthracite coal in the United States are found in Pennsylvania and Utah. Clinton created the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument to close the largest anthracite coal field in the nation along the Kaiparowitz Plateau in Kane County, Utah. The Kentucky-based Andalux Resources coal company held leases on the 3,400 acre coal field which contains about 7 billion tons of low sulfur anthracite coal worth $1.5 trillion in 1996 dollars. When Clinton nationalized 1/7th of Utah, he killed 1,000 jobs and about $50 million in payroll dollars per year going into Kane County. Working class Utahans lost their livelihood, but Clinton paid his expected quid pro quo to a foreigner who could not legally donate money to Clinton's political campaign.
When Clinton made his decision to nationalized 1/7th of the State of Utah he did not speak with Republican Utah governor Mike Leavitt nor anyone else in the State. He did not convey his intentions to US Senators Orrin Hatch or Robert Bennett, nor to any of Utah's three Congressmen. They found out from a news report published in the Washington Post on Sept. 7, 1996. All flags in the affected areas of the State flew at half mast. The residents of Escalante hung mannequins of Bill Clinton and Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt in effigy. Clinton's land seizure became the first "national monument" to be managed by the Bureau of Land Management rather than the National Park Service.
Congress approved Jimmy Carter's theft of a chunk of Alaska to prevent the drilling of cheap oil. But the GOP-controlled Congress did not legalize Clinton's theft of 1.7 million acres of America on the pretext of saving dinosaur bones. Nor did the Democratically-controlled Congress legalize George W. Bush's seizure of 13,451 square miles of seabeds in the Rose Atoll and 85,607 square miles in the Marianas Trenches Archipelago to protect the seven islands and atolls in the Pacific Remote Islands Monument.
Creating a US National Monument from the Marianas Trench Archipelago to protect its seabeds in international waters from "destruction" is quite a stretch based on the terms of the Antiquities Act of June 8, 1906, Stat 225, 16 USC 431. When Bush-43 announced the Marianas Trench Archipelago National Monument, he was met with fierce resistance from the National Marine Manufacturer's Association because, in their view, the Bush-43 Executive Order creating the national monument bypassed public comment and peer review.
While Bush's Executive Order may have been a little fuzzy about how much of the Marianas Trench Archipelago National Monument was actually US territory and how much was international water, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which went into force on Nov. 16, 1994 after being signed by Bill Clinton, allows member nations who had the power to do so to enforce, on behalf of the world's largest environmental groups, exclusive marine zones. The seabed regulations created a bizarre regulatory regime that worked for Bush since what Bush was doing had nothing to do with protecting seabeds, but protecting what was under them.
In the seabeds around the Marianas Trench and Rose Atoll National Monuments, geologists have identified hard minerals like phosphate, abyssal manganese, ferromanganese, cobalt, sulfide, olivine, feldspar, clinopyroxene, opaline, silica and pyrite as well as hydrothermal deposits of gold and silver—and the world's richestt deposits of baryite (barite). In addition, under those seabeds is the world's largest oil and natural gas reserves. Preliminary estimates suggest the oil and natural gas reserves will dwarf the combined reserves found under the North Slope of Alaska and in the Arabian Peninsula—combined.
Today, once again, it's about oil. And once again, a new land grab is taking place. This time, the thief is Barack Obama and his Secretary of the Interior, former Sen. Ken Salazar [D-CO]. Confidential draft documents from the Interior Department were leaked last year, identifying some 13 million acres were being considered for protection under the Antiquities Act. Obama, like Bush-43 and Clinton, has no intention of seeking the blessings of Congress.
Those areas included parts of Alaska, Arizona, northern California, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada and Washington State. Millions of acres of public lands will be closed to the public. They will be off limits to hunting, fishing, camping, riding—or hiking. Much of today's domestic oil and natural gas are produced in the affected States. Likely added to the list will be parts of North and South Dakota, Nebraska and Wyoming.
At a time when the American people are seeking to pressure Congress into reducing the nation's dependency on foreign oil, Obama—like Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, iss creating impediments to America's ability to develop new domestic sources for oil and natural gas that will allow us to stop buying oil and natural gas from those who are determined to weaken the fiber of America. In order to accomplish the latest slight of hand to steal the wealth of America from the American people, the latest land grab works this way:
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar just performed the first phase of the Obama Administration's smoke and mirrors sleight-of-hand, issuing a Secretarial Order—3310—assuminging mythical authority he does not constitutionally or legally possess, and through the issuance, establishing a new "land designation" of "Wild Lands" as a distinctly different classification than "Wilderness Areas" (designated by Congress). In point of fact, only Congress has that authority. Obama does not possess it, thus, he cannot transfer authority he does not constitutionally possess to a subordinate.
Secretarial Order 3310 will require the Bureau of Land Management to inventory all lands within their jurisdiction in order to ascertain which have "wild lands" characteristics. According to the Order, the Bureau must conduct such an inventory before it can authorize any project that might impair the "wild lands" characteristics of any land considered for mineral exploration or other forms of development. It is then that the definitions of what constitutions "wild lands" characteristics gets fuzzy.
Subscribe to the NewsWithViews Daily News Alerts!
And even though the Congressional designation of a national monument mandates that it cannot consume more than 5,000 acres, Secretarial Order 3310 says that "wild lands" areas "...must contain at least 5,000 acres of contiguous roadless Bureau of Land Management land, except that it may be smaller if it is adjacent to other federal lands which have been formally determined to have wilderness or potential wilderness value or...such lands included designated wilderness, BLM wilderness study areas, US Fish & Wildlife service areas proposed for wilderness designation, US Forest Service wilderness study areas, or areas of recommended wilderness, and National Park Service areas recommended or proposed for designation." Second, the land must contain "naturalness," meaning it must appear to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, and any work of human beings must be substantially unnoticeable." And finally, according to Secretarial Order 3310, the wild lands to be confiscated by fiat must present "opportunities for solitude." Say, what? Just in case the land about to be stolen by the government does not meet the first two criteria, I guess if you feel "solitude" when you see it, it qualifies as "wild lands" even though it doesn't qualify based on its physical attributes. For part two click below.