Land Sovereignty up to Senate

Published September 1, 1999

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the American Land Sovereignty Act, which keeps control of American land in the hands of legislators elected by the people. The bill is now in the Senate Energy Committee and Natural Resources Committee, where it is finding relatively little support. While the measure had 183 co-sponsors in the House, it has only 14 in the Senate. Obtaining more will be difficult without public pressure.

The bill is quite simple, setting forth three basic requirements for World Heritage, Biosphere, and Ramsar sites as well as any other international designations or restrictions of land use within the United States.

  • The Act requires the Secretary of the Interior to obtain the approval of Congress for any nomination of property located in the U.S. as a World Heritage Site.
  • It prohibits an federal official from designating any land in the U.S. as a Biosphere Reserve unless Congress ratifies and enacts the Biosphere Reserve Treaty.
  • It prohibits any federal official from designating any U.S. land for special or restricted use under any international agreement unless such designation is specifically approved by Congress.

The Act is strongly opposed by the Clinton-Gore administration as well as a number of Senators, congressional staffers have told Environment News. They say the reluctant senators would rather not be placed in a position of having to vote to approve or disapprove international control of U.S. land.