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Since hydrocarbons were first discovered near submerged lands, interest has increased in offshore mineral development. President Truman's proclamation of 1945 asserting jurisdiction over the natural resources of the continental shelf of the United States by the Federal Government initiated numerous claims by states and nations as to the control and exploitability of such areas. Also arising from this action were several Supreme Court cases and finally the passage by Congress of the Submerged Lands Act and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act allowing leasing and development of the Federal portion to begin in 1954. Further consideration was given by the International Law Commission and the United Nations Conferences on the Law of the Sea regarding possible solutions to un lateral action of nations asserting jurisdiction to large areas of submerged lands including the waters above the subsoil.
Rapid development of the mineral resources of submerged lands during the past 10-15 years has precipitated numerous legal, technical, and associated problems, some of which have been conquered and others of which still challenge the best minds available. It is expected, however, that further accomplishments will allow development in areas previously thought to be incapable of exploitation.
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