Opinion of the Court

not plausible that the United States sought to reserve only the upland portions of the area.

Alaska also argues that any inclusion of submerged lands within the Reserve was not supported by an appropriate public purpose. Specifically, Alaska claims that only a “public exigency” or “international duty” will support a reservation of submerged lands. In Shively, the Court recognized a general congressional policy of granting away land beneath navigable waters only “in case of some international duty or public exigency,” 152 U. S., at 50. But that is a congressional policy, not a constitutional obligation. Utah Div. of State Lands, 482 U. S., at 197. The only constitutional limitation on a conveyance or reservation of submerged lands is that it serve an appropriate public purpose: The United States has the power to dispose of submerged lands in prestatehood territories “'in order to perform international obligati or to effect the improvement of such lands for the promotion and convenience of commerce with foreign nations and among the several States, or to carry out other public purposes appropriate to the objects for which the United States hold the Territory.'Id., at 196–197 (emphasis added) (quoting Shively, supra, at 48). There is no question that, as the Master concluded, the inclusion of submerged lands within the Reserve fulfilled an appropriate public purpose-namely, securing an oil supply for the national defense.

In sum, the 1923 Executive Order creating the Reserve reflects a clear intent to include submerged lands within the Reserve. The boundary by its terms embraces certain coastal features, and the Master interpreted it to embrace others. In light of the purpose of the Reserve, it is simply not plausible that the Order was intended to exclude submerged lands, and thereby to forfeit ownership of valuable petroleum resources beneath those lands. The importance of submerged lands to the United States' goal of securing a supply of oil distinguishes this case from Montana and Utah

Opinion of the Court

Div. of State Lands, where the disputed submerged lands were unnecessary for achieving the federal objectives.


Under Utah Div. of State Lands, we must ask not only whether the United States intended a reservation to include submerged lands, but also whether the United States intended to defeat a future State's title to those lands. The Master found that Congress expressed a clear intent to defeat state title in $11(b) of the Alaska Statehood Act. Pub. L. 85–508, 72 Stat. 347. That section provides that the United States has the “power of exclusive legislation ... as provided by [the Enclave Clause of the Constitution, Art. I, $8, cl. 17,] over such tracts or parcels of land as, immediately prior to the admission of said State, are owned by the United States and held for military ... purposes, including naval petroleum reserve numbered 4 [the National Petroleum Reserve).” The Master concluded that § 11(b), “in referring to the Reserve as ‘owned by the United States,' clearly contemplate[d] continued federal ownership of the Reserve." Report 433.

Alaska argues that $11(b)’s reference to exclusive federal legislative authority over the Reserve under the Enclave Clause says nothing about United States' title to submerged lands within the Reserve. Alaska suggests that the United States need not own all lands within a military area to exercise jurisdiction, and Congress “had no reason to defeat State title to submerged lands [since] it always retains plenary authority to regulate navigable waters for defense purposes." Alaska Exceptions Brief 64. Alaska thus attempts to align this case with Utah Div. of State Lands, where we found no clear intent to defeat state title to the bed of Utah Lake, in part because the United States need not have defeated state title to preserve its ability to develop a reservoir or water reclamation project at the lake. 482 U. S., at 208.

Opinion of the Court

Alaska's argument fails for several reasons. First, Alaska ignores the fact the Reserve was not created to preserve the United States' “authority to regulate navigable waters for defense purposes,” but to preserve the Government's ability to extract petroleum resources. Ownership may not be necessary for federal regulation of navigable waters, but it is necessary to prevent the Reserve's petroleum resources from being drained from beneath submerged lands. Second, when the United States exercises its power of “exclusive legislation" under the Enclave Clause, it necessarily acquires title to the property. See James v. Dravo Contracting Co., 302 U. S. 134, 141, 142 (1937) (“[The Enclave Clause) governs those cases where the United States acquires lands with the consent of the legislature of the State for the purposes there described” (emphasis added)); see also Collins v. Yosemite Park & Curry Co., 304 U. S. 518, 527 (1938). Third, Alaska's argument that $ 11(b) of the Statehood Act says nothing about federal ownership of the Reserve ignores the fact that, on its face, § 11(b) states that the United States "owned” the Reserve.

As discussed supra, at 38–41, the Reserve included submerged lands. Section 11(b) thus reflects a clear congressional statement that the United States owned and would continue to own submerged lands included within the Re

The conclusion that Congress was aware when it passed the Alaska Statehood Act that the Reserve encompassed submerged lands is reinforced by other legislation, enacted just before Alaska's admission to the Union, granting certain offshore lands to the Territory of Alaska. See Pub. L. 85–303, $ 2(a), 71 Stat. 623. Congress expressly exempted from that grant “all oil and gas deposits located in the submerged lands along the Arctic coast of naval petroleum reserve numbered 4 [the National Petroleum Reserve]." $3d) (emphasis added). Moreover, in contrast to Utah Div. of State Lands, defeating state title to submerged lands was necessary to achieve the United States' objec


Opinion of the Court

tive-securing a supply of oil and gas that would necessarily exist beneath uplands and submerged lands. The transfer of submerged lands at statehood—and the loss of ownership rights to the oil deposits beneath those lands—would have thwarted that purpose.


Alaska argues that even if the 1923 Executive Order purported to include submerged lands within the Reserve for an appropriate public purpose and even if § 11(b) reflects a clear intent to defeat state title to all lands within the Reserve, title still passed to Alaska because the President lacked the authority to include submerged lands within the Reserve. Alaska Exceptions Brief 58–60. The argument is based in part on Utah Div. of State Lands, where we referred to the authority of Congress to dispose of property under the Property Clause, Art. IV, $3, cl. 2. Since Utah Div. of State Lands concerned congressional enactments, it discloses little about the circumstances under which action by the Executive will defeat a State's equal footing claim to submerged lands.

As authority for inclusion of submerged lands within the Reserve, the Master focused on the Act of June 25, 1910, ch. 421, 36 Stat. 847, also known as the Pickett Act. The Act stated:

"[T]he President may, at any time in his discretion, temporarily withdraw from settlement, location, sale, or entry any of the public lands of the United States including the District of Alaska and reserve the same for water-power sites, irrigation, classification of lands, or other public purposes to be specified in the orders of withdrawals, and such withdrawals or reservations shall remain in force until revoked by him or by an Act of Congress.” $1, 36 Stat. 847 (repealed by the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, Pub. L. 94– 579, $ 704(a), 90 Stat. 2792).

Opinion of the Court

The Pickett Act nowhere specifically mentions submerged lands, and Alaska therefore challenges the Master's conclusion that the Pickett Act gave the President the express authority to dispose of them. Its argument rests mainly on the proposition that the Pickett Act's reference to "withdraw[al)” of “public lands” cannot include submerged lands, because such lands are not subject to sale, settlement, or entry under the general land laws and therefore need not be "withdrawn." Cf. Utah Div. of State Lands, 482 U. S., at 203 (1888 Act stated that lands designated for reservoir sites were “reserved from sale as the property of the United States, and shall not be subject ... to entry, settlement or occupation’”; rejecting claim that Act authorized inclusion of submerged lands in part because such lands were already exempt from sale, entry, or occupation); Mann v. Tacoma Land Co., 153 U. S. 273, 284 (1894) (“[T]he general legislation of Congress in respect to public lands does not extend to tide lands”); Shively, 152 U. S., at 48 (“Congress has never undertaken by general laws to dispose of” land under navigable waters).

Assuming, arguendo, that Alaska's construction of the Pickett Act is correct, it does not control the outcome of this

We conclude that Congress ratified the terms of the 1923 Executive Order in $11(b) of the Statehood Act. Despite Alaska's protestations to the contrary, there would have been no barrier to Congress retaining a petroleum reserve, including submerged lands, at the point of Alaska's statehood, provided it satisfied Utah Div. of State Lands' requirements of demonstrating a clear intent to include submerged lands within the Reserve's scope and a clear intent to defeat Alaska's title. It follows that Congress could achieve the same result by explicitly recognizing, at the point of Alaska's statehood, an Executive reservation that clearly included submerged lands. Cf. Utah Div. of State Lands, supra, at 205–207 (examining United States' claim that references to the bed of Utah Lake made by the Geological


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