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ownership and under no more control as to the use or the prices at which the coal may be sold than any other private property. If the Government leases the coal lands and acts as any landlord would, and imposes conditions in its leases like those which are now imposed by the owners in fee of coal mines in the various coal regions of the East, then it would retain over the disposition of the coal deposits a choice as to the assignee of the lease, a power of resuming possession at the end of the term of the lease, or of readjusting terms at fixed periods of the lease, which might easily be framed to enable it to exercise a limited but effective control in the disposition and sale of the coal to the public (applause). It has been urged that the leasing system has never been adopted in this country, and that its adoption would largely interfere with the investment of capital and the proper development and opening up of coal resources. I venture to differ entirely from this view (applause). My investigations show that many owners of mining property of this country do not mine it themselves, and do not invest their money in the plants necessary for the mining, but they lease their properties for a term of years varying from twenty to thirty and forty years, under conditions requiring the erection of a proper plant and the investment of a certain amount of money in the development of the mines, and fixing a rental and a royalty, sometimes an absolute figure and sometimes one proportioned to the market value of the coal. Under this latter method the owner of a mine shares in the prosperity of his lessees when coal is high and the profits good, and also shares to the same extent in their disappointment when the price of coal falls. I have looked with some care into a report made at the instance of President Roosevelt upon the disposition of coal lands in Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand. These are peculiarly mining countries, and their experience ought to be most valuable. In all these countries the method for the disposition and opening of coal mines originally owned by the Government is by granting a leasehold, and not by granting an absolute title. The terms of the leases run all the way from twenty to fifty years while the amount of land which may be leased to any individual there is from 320 acres to 2,000 acres. It appears that a full examination was made and the opinions of all the leading experts on the subject were solicited and given, and that with one accord they approved in all respects the leasing system (applause). Its success is abundantly shown. It is possible that at first considerable latitude will have to be given to the Executive in drafting these forms of lease, but as soon as experiment shall show which is the most workable and practicable, its use should be provided for specifically by statute. The question as to how great an area ought to be included in a lease to one individual or corporation is not free from difficulty; but in view of the fact that the Government retains control as owner, I think there might be some liberality in the amount leased, and that 2,500 acres would not be too great a maximum. By the opportunity to register the terms upon which the coal shall be held by the tenant, either at the end of each lease or at periods during the term, the Government may secure the benefit of sharing in the increased price of coal and the additional profit made by the tenant. By imposing conditions in respect to the character of work to be done in the mine, the Government may control the character of the development of the mine and the treatment of employes with reference to safety (applause). By denying the right to transfer the lease except by written permission of Government authorities, it may withhold the needed consent when it is proposed to transfer the leasehold to persons interested in establishing a monopoly of coal production in any State or neighborhood (applause). As one-third of all the coal supply is held by the Government, it seems wise that it should retain such control over the mining and the sale as the relation of lessor to lessee furnishes. The change from the absolute grant to the leasing system will involve a good deal of trouble in the outset, and the training of experts in the matter of making proper leases; but the change will be a good one and can be made. The change is in the interest of Conservation, and I am glad to approve it. (Great applause)
ALASKA COAL LANDS
The investigations of the Geological Survey show that the coal properties in Alaska cover about 1,200 square miles, and that there are known to be available about fifteen billion tons. This is, however, an underestimate of the coal in Alaska, because further developments will probably increase this amount many times; but we can say with considerable certainty that there are two fields on the Pacific slope which can be reached by railways at a reasonable cost from deep
water—in one case of about 50 miles and in the other case of about
150—which will afford certainly six billion tons of coal, more than half of which is of a very high grade of bituminous and of anthracite. It is estinated to be worth, in the ground, one-half cent a ton, which makes its value per acre from S50 to $500. The coking-coal lands of Pennsylvania are worth from $800 to $2,000 an acre, while other Appalachian fields are worth flom S10 to $386 an acre, and the fields in the central States from $10 to $2,000 an acre, and in the Rocky mountains from $10 to $500 an acre. The demand for coal on the Pacific Coast is for about 4,500,000 tons a year. It would encounter the competition of cheap fuel oil, of which the equivalent of 12,000,000 tons of coal a year is used there. It is estimated that the coal could be laid down at Seattle or San Francisco, a high-grade bituminous at $4 a ton, and anthracite at $5 or $6 a ton. The price of coal on the Pacific slope varies greatly from time to time in the year and from year to year—from $4 to $12 a ton. With a regular coal supply established, the expert of the Geological Survey, Mr Brooks, who has made a report on the subject, does not think there would be an excessive profit in the Alaska coal mining because the price at which the coal could be sold would be considerably lowered by competition from these fields and by the presence of crude fuel oil. The history of the laws affecting the disposition of Alaska coal lands shows them to need amendment badly. Speaking of them, Mr Brooks says:
The first act, passed June 6, 1900, simply extended to Alaska the provisions of the coal lands in the United States. The law was ineffective, for it provided that only subdivided lands could be taken up and there were no land surveys in Alaska.
I do not like to criticise a coordinate branch of the Government. The Executive makes mistakes, and so does Congress, but I do not think it reflects greatly on the intense interest that Congress had in Alaska and her development that they should go to work and pass a law affecting the coal lands in Alaska that didn't operate there at all [applause]. The matter was rectified by the act of April 28, 1904, which permitted unsurveyed lands to be entered and the surveys to be made at the expense of the entrymen. Unfortunately the law provided that only tracts of 160 acres could be taken up, and no recognition was given to the fact that it was impracticable to develop an isolated coal field requiring the expenditure of a large amount of money by such small communities. Many claims were staked, however, and surveys were made for patents. It was recognized by everyone familiar with the conditions that after patent was obtained these claims would be combined in tracts large enough to assure successful mining operation. No one experienced in mining would, of course, consider it feasible to open a coal field on a basis of a single 160-acre tract. The claims for the most part were handled in groups, for which one agent represented the several different owners. Unfortunately a strict interpretation of the statute raised the question whether even a tacit understanding between claimowners to combine after patents had been obtained was not illegal. Remedial legislation was sought and enacted in the statute of May 28, 1908. This law permitted the consolidation of claims staked previous to November 12, 1906, in tracts of 2,560 acres. One clause of this law invalidated the title if any individual or corporation at any time in the future owned any interest whatsoever, directly or indirectly, in more than one tract. The purpose of this clause was to prevent the monopolization of coal fields. Its immediate effect was to discourage capital. It was felt by many that this clause might lead to forfeiture of title through the accidents of inheritance, or might even be used by the unscrupulous in blackmail. It would appear that land taken up under this law might at any time be forfeited to the Government through the action of any individual, who, innocently or otherwise, obtained interest in more than one coal company. Such a title was felt to be too insecure to warrant the large investments needed for mining development. The net result of all this is that no titles to coal lands have been passed.
On November 12, 1906, President Roosevelt issued an Executive order withdrawing all coal lands from location and entry in Alaska. On May 16, 1907, he modified the order so as to permit valid locations made prior to the withdrawal on November 12, 1906, to proceed to entry and patent. Prior to that date some 900 claims had been filed, most of them said to be illegal because either made fraudulently by dummy entrymen in the interest of one individual or corporation, or because of agreements made prior to location between the applicants to cooperate in developing the lands. There are thirty-three claims for 160 acres each, known as the “Cunningham claims,” which are said to be valid on the ground that they were made by an attorney for thirty-three different and bona fide claimants who, as alleged, paid their money and took proper steps to locate their entries and protect them. The representatives of the Government, on the other hand, in the hearings before the Land Office have attacked the validity of these Cunningham claims on the ground that prior to their location there was an understanding between the claimants to pool their claims after they had been perfected and unite them in one company. . The trend of decision seems to show that such an agreement would invalidate the claims, although under the subsequent law of May 28, 1908, the consolidation of such claims was permitted, after location and entry, in tracts of 2,560 acres. It would be, of course, improper for me to intimate what the result of the issue as to the Cunningham and other Alaska claims is likely to be, but it ought to be distinctly understood that no private claims for Alaska coal lands have as yet been allowed or perfected, and also that whatever the result as to pending claims, the existing coal-land laws of Alaska are most unsatisfactory and should be radically amended (applause). To begin with, the purchase price of the land is a flat rate of $10 per acre, with no power to increase it beyond that, although, as we have seen, the estimate of the agent of the Geological Survey would carry up the maximum of value to $500 an acre. In my judgment it is essential to the proper development of Alaska that these coal lands should be opened, and that the Pacific slope should be given the benefit of the comparatively cheap coal of fine quality which can be furnished at a reasonable price from these fields (great applause); but the public, through the Government, ought certainly to retain a wise control and interest in these coal deposits (applause), and I think it may do so safely if Congress will authorize the granting of leases, as already suggested for Government coal lands in the United States, with provisions forbidding the transfer of the leases except with the consent of the Government, thus preventing their acquisition by a combination or monopoly, and upon limitations as to the area to be included in any one lease to one individual, and at a certain moderate rental, with royalties upon the coal mined proportioned to the market value of the coal laid down either at Seattle or at San Francisco (applause). Of course such leases should contain conditions requiring the erection of proper plants, the proper development by modern mining methods of the properties leased, and the use of every known and practical means and device for saving the life of the miners. The Government of the United States has much to answer for in not having given proper attention to the Government of Alaska and the development of her resources for the benefit of all the people of the country. I would not force development at the expense of a present or future waste of resources; but the problem as to the disposition of the coal lands for present and future use can be wisely and safely settled in one session if Congress gives it careful attention. (Great applause)
OIL AND GAS LANDS
In the last Administration there were withdrawn from agricultural entry 2,820,000 acres of supposed oil land in California, about 1,500,000 acres in Louisiana (of which only 6,500 acres were known to be vacant, unappropriated land), 75,000 acres in Oregon, and 174,000 acres in Wyoming, making a total of nearly 4,000,000 acres. In September, 1909, I directed that all public oil lands, whether then withdrawn or not, should be withheld from disposition pending congressional action, for the reason that the existing placer mining law, although made applicable to deposits of this character, is not suitable to such lands, and for the further reason that it seemed desirable to reserve certain fuel-oil deposits for the use of the American Navy. Accordingly the form of all existing withdrawals was changed, and new withdrawals, aggregating 2,750,000 acres, were made, in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. Field examinations during the year showed that of the original withdrawals, 2,170,000 acres were not valuable for oil, and they were restored for agricultural entry. Meantime other withdrawals of public oil lands in these States were made, so that on July 1, 1910, the outstanding withdrawals then amounted to 4,550,000 acres. The needed oil and gas law is essentially a leasing law. In their natural occurrence oil and gas cannot be measured in terms of acres, like coal, and it follows that exclusive title to these products can normally be secured only after they reach the surface. Oil should be disposed of as a commodity in terms of barrels of transportable product rather than in acres of real estate (applause). This is, of course, the reason for the practically universal adoption of the leasing system wherever oil land is in private ownership. The Government thus would not be entering on an experiment, but simply putting into effect a plan successfully operated in private contracts. Why should not the Government as a land-owner deal directly with the oil producer rather than through the intervention of a middleman to whom the Government gives title to the land? (Applause) The principal underlying feature of such legislation should be the exercise of beneficial control rather than the collection of revenue. As not only the largest owner of oil lands, but as a prospective large consumer of oil by reason of the increasing use of fuel-oil by the navy, the Federal Government is directly concerned both in en