Back to Publications

Leases and Leasing Practices

J. Reuel Armstrong, Proceedings of 1st Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute (1955)

The Mineral Leasing Act of February 25, 1920,1 provided for the leasing not only of petroleum but for gas, coal, oil shale, phosphate and sodium. That Act is still the basic authority for Interior's jurisdiction. While it has been amended a score of times, it is still considered one of the most constructive pieces of conservation legislation on the statute books. [47]
The Mineral Leasing Act does not cover the Outer Continental Shelf, naval petroleum reserves, national parks and monuments, incorporated cities, towns and villages, or acquired land in general. Acquired land might be defined as that which has been purchased or condemned by the Federal Government for specific purposes, for example, the Bankhead-Jones farm acquisition programs. Congress passed the Acquired Lands Leasing Act in 19472 which embraces the same minerals as the Mineral Leasing Act and generally adopts the provisions of the Mineral Leasing Act. Incidentally, even locatable minerals on most of the acquired lands may be leased pursuant to Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1946 and the regulations.3 Congress has also made specific provision for the leasing of Indian lands.
While all of these laws invest broad authority in the Secretary of the Interior with respect to leasing and operation, nevertheless there are many details that are spelled out in each of the statutes. Administrative details which are n