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Submerged Lands Act

The Submerged Lands Act of 1953[1] is a U.S. federal law that recognized the title of the states to submerged navigable lands within their boundaries at the time they entered the Union. They include navigable waterways, such as rivers, as well as marine waters within the state's boundaries, generally three geographical miles (almost exactly 3 nautical miles or 5.6 kilometres) from the coastline.[2]

The Submerged Lands Act of 1953 was immediately followed by the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.[3] Under the latter, the Secretary of the Interior is responsible for the administration of mineral exploration and development of the Outer Continental Shelf (O.C.S.). The Secretary of the Interior is empowered to grant leases to the highest qualified responsible bidder and to formulate regulations as necessary to carry out the provisions of the Act. O.C.S.L.A. provides guidelines for implementing an Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas exploration and development program.[4]


  1. ^ Pub.L. 83–31, 67 Stat. 29, enacted May 22, 1953, since codified at 43 U.S.C. § 1301 et seq.
  2. ^ Description of the Submerged Lands Act; Federal Wildlife Laws Handbook (University of New Mexico)
  3. ^ Pub.L. 83–212, 67 Stat. 462, enacted August 7, 1953, since codified at 43 U.S.C. § 1331 et seq.
  4. ^