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The presidential campaign debate over expanding offshore drilling is only the latest in 70 years of conflict over who should control the resources of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).
The federal OCS oil and gas program originated offshore Louisiana and Texas in the Gulf of Mexico in late 1954 following years of conflicting federal and state claims for offshore jurisdiction. This struggle became known as the Tidelands controversy.
Federal vs. state control. In 1937, federal legislation was introduced that would confirm federal ownership of lands seaward of the low-water mark. In 1938, as the proposed legislation was being considered and ultimately defeated in Congress, Louisiana enacted a law asserting its jurisdiction out to 27 miles. Texas and California also made claims to the seabed off their shores.
In 1945 President Harry Truman issued a proclamation asserting federal jurisdiction over offshore resources.
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