Presidential Memoranda Regarding Mineral Leasing

On December 20, 2016 the White House announced two memoranda “withdrawing from disposition by mineral leasing” specific areas of the outer continental shelf. One memorandum designates the Chuckchi Sea and portions of the Beaufort Sea, and the other designates the areas of the outer continental shelf associated with 26 major canyons and canyon complexes off the Atlantic coast.

They both cite authority granted to the president in section 12(a) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, 43 U.S.C. 1341(a). The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is also cited as having jurisdiction over these areas.

Quoting from the memoranda: “The withdrawal directed by this memorandum prevents consideration of withdrawn areas for any mineral leasing for purposes of exploration, development, or production.”

Both also close with the same statement: “Nothing in this withdrawal affects rights under existing leases in the withdrawn areas.”

Unlike most memoranda, these made the national news as being significant for environmental protection. Both were greeted with enthusiasm by environmental activists and, not surprisingly, decried by oil companies. It therefore bears watching closely after January 20, 2017 to see if these are rescinded.


Presidential Proclamation — Returning the Flag of the United States to Full-Staff

Issued December 16, 2016

Simple order to return the flag to full-staff beginning December 17, 2016.

This seems a curious order to me. I was unaware of the need to issue such an order. I always thought the half-staff order was designated for a specific period of time, but apparently not, at least this time.

Presidential Proclamation — To Implement the Nepal Preference Program and for Other Purposes

Issued December 15, 2016

In this fairly lengthy proclamation full of technical language and citations of numerous laws, previous proclamations and free-trade agreements, the president appears to be making a whole host of determinations with regard to continued eligibility of various countries to participate in free-trade or tariff free transactions. Several times the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) is referred to or noted as being in need of change as a result of this proclamation.

In addition to Nepal, this proclamation names Central African Republic, Israel, Oman,Panama, and Central American countries (Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua).

This is an example of how much detailed, behind the scenes activity there is at the federal level. Few of us citizens are aware of this routine monitoring and authorizing of international trade.


Presidential Proclamation — Bill of Rights Day, 2016

Posted December 14, 2016 this proclamation declares December 15, 2016 as Bill of Rights Day.

The first paragraph of the proclamation:

“After much debate and deliberation among the Framers, the first 10 Amendments to our Constitution were written to reflect a compromise between preserving the rights of individual citizens and supporting a strong and secure Federal Government. Since its ratification on December 15, 1791, the Bill of Rights has enshrined many of our most fundamental liberties and unalienable rights — including the freedoms of speech, worship, and assembly; the rights to trial by jury and due process, and the protections from unreasonable search and seizure and cruel and unusual punishment. For 225 years, the Bill of Rights has shaped our Nation and protected our citizens, and today, in honor of all those who have worked to secure these freedoms, we strive to continue forming a more perfect Union guided by an enduring belief in these highest ideals.”

Presidential Memoranda — Minnesota World’s Fair 2023

Issued December 9, 2016

A memorandum for the Secretary of Commerce, this basically endorses by giving Federal recognition to the bid for a World’s Fair to be held in Minnesota in 2023. The theme of the expo would be “Wellness and Well Being For All”.


Message to the Senate — UN Convention on Transparency in Treaty-Based Investor-State Arbitration

Issued December 9, 2016

The treaty referred to in the title was done at New York on December 10, 2014. As in the other message posted this date, it includes a report from the Secretary of State on the Convention. Again, the treaty itself and the report are not available on this site.

Quoting from the message:

“The Convention requires the application of the modern transparency measures contained in the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Transparency Rules to certain investor-state arbitrations occurring under international investment agreements concluded before April 2014, including under the investment chapters of U.S. free trade agreements and U.S. bilateral investment treaties.”

Overall, this seems to be a good treaty for both the United States and other nations.