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Mr. TRAMMELL. The supreme court.
In the same charter provisions it is also provided that wherever we are developing tidelands, whether filled or unfilled, we cannot use any of those tidelands until our board of harbor commissioners first find by resolution that the part which is intended to be used is not then necessary, and with all reasonable certainty will not be necessary for the usage of commerce, navigation, or fishery for the next 25 years.
That question was raised in the supreme court, and our supreme court naturally pointed out, quite correctly, that in the event that any of those lands were ever-the oil wells interfered with commerce or navigation, that use would have to give way. We recognize that.
A great many, as I can show when I get the map, of the lands which Long Beach owns, are filled tide and submerged land. I think that you gentlemen are familiar with tidelands, particularly they are lands over which the tide ebbs and flows, and the submerged lands technically are those out beyond those.
Then we have another class of lands which are filled tide or submerged lands, which the courts have held still retains its character as tide and submerged lands until the legislature wipes out the trust; that is, by express language wipes out those trust provisions.
Mr. WALTER. All of these things have been based on the assumption that California retained, if you pleased, the title to these submerged lands when it became a part of the Nation?
Mr. TRAMMELL. Yes, sir. Mr. WALTER. I think that we ought to confine our discussion to that phase of the question.
Mr. TRAMMELL. I should like, since we are very vitally affected, Mr. Chairman, there are some practical angles here that I should like to bring to your attention, that I think that you would be interested in, to show the practical effect of what this legislation can do.
There is over 200 acres of land which has been filled in, that is filled tideland; practically all of our improvements have been put on those filled-in tidelands.
Gentlemen, I think that you will agree with me that if the Federal Government has or obtains through the passage of this resolution the right to oil in the submerged lands it must have that right or acquire that right by reason of the fact that it thereby acquired title to the soil.
If it acquires a title to the soil of the submerged lands, does it not necessarily follow that they also own the title to the tidelands, and if they own the title to the tidelands, must it not inevitably follow that they also own the title to these filled tidelands?
Where does that leave us? That leaves us that our entire harbor is wiped out and that the Federal Government takes over title to our harbor, but they do not assume the obligations which we have assumed in building that harbor.
That follows as the night follows the day, that you cannot escape.
This resolution here, the enactment of this resolution, puts in jeopardy every single port in America, because there is not a single port in America upon which the greater portion of its improvements have
not been constructed either upon lands which are now tide and submerged or at one time have been and have been artificially filled.
Now, what is going to happen to these other cities when they go out with a bond issue? I ask you gentlemen, sitting as counsel, passing upon a bond issue for an underwriting house, with such legislation on the books would you 0. K. a bond issue by any port issued for the purposes of putting on improvements on such property? You know, gentlemen, that you certainly would not 0. K. any
such bond issue as long as any such question like that was up. The enactment of this resolution, I venture to predict, will stop improvements until it is fought through the courts.
Any public body would be very foolish to go ahead and tax its people and put more money into its ports. There are some of them—1 am going to speak very frankly--there are some who believe that this is an entering wedge to take over the ports of America ; whether there is any truth in that I don't know; but I can say to you very frankly that there will be a great many people who are very vitally interested, and they are not alone from California, who feel that that is one of the purposes back of this resolution.
Now, the enactment of this resolution
Mr. WALTER. Whose purpose is it, do you think, to take over these harbors ?
Mr. TRAMMELL. Whose?
Mr. TRAMMELL. I do not know, unless the proponents of this measure. Frankly, I do not know what is back of it.
Mr. WALTER. You mean the Navy Department?
Mr. TRAMMELL. I do not know whether the Navy Department drafted the resolution or not, and I do not know.
Mr. GIBBS. As I understand this resolution, they specifically state that they have not title to this land, and that neither do you have title to this particular land, and that the only title that anyone has over it is for the regulation of commerce.
Now, would not the regulation of a port or harbor be in connection with the regulation of commerce over that submerged land?
Mr. TRAMMELL. I do not so understand the resolution,
Mr. MICHENER. Mr. Hobbs made it very clear, if I recall correctly, that the purpose of the resolution was to affect land below the lowwater mark.
Mr. ROBSION. And declared title to that land to be in the United States Government.
Mr. MICHENER. If I am correct, that is what he stated to be the purpose of his resolution; that being the purpose, it is fair to assume that the committee, if it saw fit to report the resolution, would see to it that the language embodied in the resolution was such as to carry out that purpose.
Mr. TRAMMELL. It does today refer to submerged lands, but my point is that if this does of its own effect cloud these other lands, because they are the same type, exactly, there is no distinction between those lands unless the Federal Government
Mr. Robsion. Would you say that if the Government has got ownership or title to the submerged lands, within the jurisdiction or lim
its, by the same declaration it could take title to the lands between low-water and high-water mark?
Mr. TRAMMELL. Yes, sir; you could not escape it.
Mr. HANCOCK. The purpose might be one thing, but the effect would be another. Mr. TRAMMELL. Yes, sir; that is right.
Mr. MASSINGALE. Right in that connection, do I understand you to share in the suspicion that this is a trick piece of legislation offered for the purpose of placing the title to these harbor improvements in the Government of the United States, and all other harbor improvements in the country?
Mr. TRAMMELL. I might say that I do not have much faith in the resolution.
Mr. MASSINGALE. I did not get that.
Mr. TRAMMELL. I do not have very much faith in the resolution, and I look with suspicion upon the resolution as to what is really back of it, answering you frankly.
Mr. MASSINGALE. You have suspicions of that kind? Mr. TRAMMELL. Yes, sir; I do. Mr. WALTER. Let me at that point reassure you, because I have talked to gentlemen from the Navy Department, and I know exactly what they have in mind, and certainly it was never within their contemplation to do more than attempt to show that the United States always owned what is under these submerged lands.
Mr. TRAMMELL. Well, they could do that very easily by the Federal Government going ahead and bringing suit. Now, there is a case, as a matter of fact, gentlemen, that I think already has decided this issue, and that is a case of the United States v. Utah, which was decided by unanimous Supreme Court, I think it was in 1931, and that case, if you will recall, for the benefit of the members who have not read it, in that case Utah was a part of the territory acquired by the United States under the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, the same as California.
Utah was admitted into the Union at a later time than California, and oil was discovered out there, and the State of Utah had issued leases to individuals for oil and gas leases under the bed of certain rivers in Utah.
The Federal Government had also issued prospective permits for oil under the same river beds.
In other words, there was a clash of authority.
There the Federal Government did not feel it necessary to come to the Congress to ask for a resolution to entitle it to go in and bring action.
The Federal Government filed suit in the Supreme Court of the United States against the State of Utah, and the matter was referred to a referee, and the question resolved itself down as to what portions, if any, of the rivers in question were navigable.
In that, the master found that parts of the river beds were navi. gable, and part was not; that is, navigable at the time Utah came into the Union.
In that case, the Court, speaking through Mr. Chief Justice Hughes said-Bearing in mind, that this is a case of oil under navigable waters, and the United States as a party, it is exactly the question we have here
Mr. McLaughlin. Do you think that there is a perfect analogy there, navigable streams and the other?
Mr. TRAMMELL. I think that this is a stronger case than ours, and I think the Court has said stronger, and I think you will agree with
I me when you hear
Mr. MICHENER. That is navigable waters within a definite boundary of the territory of the United States, about which there is no dispute; in other words, it would be the same as under any inland lake.
Mr. TRAMMELL. We thought that the part of the coast out there was part of the territory of the United States, too.
Mr. MICHENER. That is the question here.
Mr. McLAUGHLIN. In this opinion that you are going to read from, was there anything in the nature of dictum that would indicate the Court's attitude on the specific question that we have before us here?
Mr. TRAMMELL. I think that this is right on it. The controversy is with respect to certain facts, and the sufficiency of the basis of fact for a finding of navigability rather than in relation to the general principles of law that are applicable. In accordance with the constitutional principle of the equality of States, the title to the beds of rivers within Utah passed to that State when it was admitted to the Union, if the rivers were then navigable; and if they were not then navigable, the title to the river beds remained in the United States. The question of navigability is thus determinative of the controversy, and that is a Federal question. This is so, although it is undisputed that none of the portions of the rivers under consideration constitute navigable waters of the United States, that is, they are not navigable in interstate or foreign commerce, and the question is whether they are navigable waters of the State of Utah.
Later on this case was affirmed in another question, a case of the United States v. Oregon. That happened to be some inland lakes, but the same principle of law applied there likewise.
We submit that those two cases are fully determinative of the question.
Now there is a long list of cases, that go back a good many years, that are also in point, and some of them have been called to the attention of the committee.
Mr. WALTER. Do they not all follow Pollard v. Hagen? Mr. TRAMMELL. Yes, sir. Now, we would like to point out to the committee that the adoption of this resolution will seriously interfere with the future development of that property, and I might say that it is not contemplated, so far as the city of Long Beach is concerned, to put any derricks out into the water.
It is not contemplated, and I do not think that we would be permitted—in the first place, we would, of course, have to secure the consent of the War Department, which I doubt if they would hear. It is only contemplated that the derricks and other works will be placed on dry land, and if there is any drilling done it will be by whipstocks out under those lands.
Mr. WALTER. I do not like to interrupt, but that was a quorum call, and we will have to recess at this point and convene at 2 o'clock.
(Whereupon, at 12:15 p. m., the committee recessed until 2 p. m. of the same day.)
(The committee reconvened at 2 p, m.)
STATEMENT OF GEORGE N. TRAMMELL-Resumed
Mr. TRAMMELL, Mr. Chairman, I have been told that some of my remarks might be construed as charging the author of the bill under discussion with bad faith in the drafting of it.
Mr. WALTER. I am sure that nobody got that impression.
Mr. TRAMMELL. I want to be sure to clarify that. The point that I was going to make was that that might be the effect of the bill.
Naturally I do not think that the Navy Department or the author of the bill might have had anything of the kind in mind.
I should like to present next to you a photostatic copy of a letter dated December 22, 1933, from Mr. Ickes, the Secretary of the Interior.
That is on this question of the title of those lands in California. It is addressed to Mr. Olin S. Proctor, 521 East Ocean Boulevard, Long Beach, Calif.
Mr. WALTER. Will you introduce it into the record ?
In effect it states that the Federal Government does not have any title to the soil, either within the 3-mile limit or beyond—that is the effect of this letter.
Mr. MURDOCK. What is the date of it?
Mr. MURDOCK. I am just wondering if at that time this controversy had arisen.
Mr. TRAMMELL. Well, apparently this was on a request for an application, or some request about getting a right from the Federal Government in the soil within the 3-mile limit, I assume from the first part of this.
Mr. MURDOCK. The question in my mind is this, whether it is fair to introduce a letter of that kind charging the Secretary of the Interior with that at a time previous to this matter coming before Congress.
Mr. TRAMMELL. It shows or for the purpose of showing--a settled course of conduct of the executive branches of the Government charged with the duty of the administration and control of the public lands of the Federal Government.
Mr. WALTER. The United States would not be bound by a letter of that sort; would it?
Mr. TRAMMELL. Unless there might be a rule of property there, Mr. Chairman, over a period of time. I think that there would be a settled rule of property that grows up even though California had not owned the title in the first place.
Mr. Tolan. The Interior Department did not accept any applications; did they?
Mr. TRAMMELL. That is right.
Mr. TOLAN. And they held that the title was in the State of California ; is that true?
Mr. TRAMMELL. That is right. If I may offer that?