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04/25/63 Duncan Miller Et Al., v. Stewart L. Udall

April 25, 1963

DUNCAN MILLER ET AL., APPELLANTS

v.

STEWART L. UDALL, SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, APPELLEE.



Before MAGRUDER, Senior United States Circuit Judge for the First Circuit,* and WASHINGTON and DANAHER, Circuit Judges.

UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT.

April 25, 1963. Decided 1963.CDC.64

APPELLATE PANEL:

This is an oil and gas case, involving the amendments to the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, 41 Stat. 437, effected by the Mineral Leasing Act Revision of 1960, approved September 2, 1960, 74 Stat. 781, 30 U.S.C. 226 et seq. (Supp. II, 1959-60).

Appellants had filed applications for oil and gas leases prior to September 2, 1960, and these were still pending on that date. Appellants were later asked to give written consent to the new rental and other terms imposed by the Act of September 2. They refused to do so. The Secretary of the Interior declined to issue leases to appellants in the absence of such consent. Appellants then brought suit for declaratory and mandatory relief in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The District Court entered summary judgment for the Secretary, and this appeal followed.

The opinion of the Deputy Solicitor of the Department of the Interior, explaining the Secretary's decision, states in principal part:

"The act of September 2, 1960, amended the Mineral Leasing Act to require a number of changes in the terms of noncompetitive oil and gas leases, including the revision of the length of the lease term from 5 to 10 years and an increase in the rental rates to 50 cents an acre or fraction thereof for each lease year. These and several other provisions of the act of September 2, 1960, which affect oil and gas leases are set forth in the Bureau of Land Management's Form 4-1558 (December 1960), entitled 'Consent to Changes in Lease Terms Required'. Applicants whose offers were pending on September 2, 1960, including each of the appellants in this case, were asked to consent to the amendment of the lease terms in their pending offers by signing Form 4-1558 (hereafter referred to as the consent form) which also contains a statement of the applicant's consent to be bound by all of the provisions of the act of September 2, 1960.

"The appellants urge several reasons to sustain their claim to leases containing the provisions in effect on the day they filed their respective offers.

". . . [Appellants] refer to section 8 of the act of September 2, 1960, which provides that no amendments made by the act shall affect any valid right in existence on the effective date of the Mineral Leasing Act Revision of 1960. The legislative history of this section makes it plain that the Congress did not intend it to include offers pending on the date of enactment. H.R. 10455, 86th Congress, which became the act of September 2, 1960, as passed by the House did not contain a savings clause. During the Senate Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs' consideration of the House bill, it released a Committee Print dated April 1, 1960, which contained a section 9 reading:

"'No amendment made by this Act shall affect any right acquired under the law as it existed prior to such amendment, and such right shall be governed by the law in effect at the time of its acquisition. Oil and gas lease offers pending in the BUREAU OF Land Management on the date of this Act for which leases are subsequently issued shall be subject to the rental provisions in force and effect when the lease offers were filed.'

"In reply to a request by the Committee Chairman for its views, the Department commented:

"'Section 9 of the committee print requires amendment. The first sentence would provide that no amendment made by the bill would affect any right acquired under the law as existing prior to the amendment and the right would be governed by the law in effect at the time of its acquisition. We are in accord with this sentence. However, the second sentence provides that oil and gas lease offers pending in the Bureau of Land Management on the date of aproval of H.R. 10455 for which leases are subsequently issued would be subject to the rental provisions in effect at the time of the filing of the offers. This is highly undesirable. Our repeated statements on the need for new rental provisions have shown the need for revision of those provisions. We do not see any justification for such a windfall as this second sentence would permit. The statements which we have made on the profits expected under increased rentals have been prepared on the assumption that all leases issued after the date of this bill's enactment would be subject to the revised rental provisions. Consequently, we recommend most strongly that the second sentence of section 9 be deleted.' (Letter dated May 11, 1960, from Under Secretary of the Interior to Chairman, Senate Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs. Senate Report No. 1549, 86th Congress, p. 24 [U.S.Code Congressional and Administrative News 1960, p. 3334].)

"The Bill as thereafter reported out by the Senate Committee and passed by the Senate read:

"'Sec. 8. No amendment made by this Act shall affect any valid right granted under the law as it existed prior to such amendment.' (Cong. ...


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