U.S. Official In CNMI To Release Mineral Rights To Commonwealth

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Interior to convey rights to oil, gas, mineral deposits in submerged lands

By Haidee V. Eugenio

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, March 27, 2014) – U.S. Interior assistant secretary for insular areas Lori Faeth is currently on island and her meeting today with Gov. Eloy S. Inos would pave the way for Interior to release the patent conveying to the CNMI oil, gas, and mineral deposit rights within the 3-mile submerged lands now controlled by the Commonwealth.

Faeth and Inos will hold a joint news briefing this morning. They will be joined by Interior Office of Insular Affairs director Nik Pula.

The visiting Interior officials are also expected to award grants to the CNMI once again. This afternoon, Faeth and Pula are also expected to meet with Public School System officials.

On Jan. 15, President Barack Obama signed a proclamation temporarily withholding the transfer to the CNMI of submerged lands around five islands that are either part of a national marine monument or under lease to the U.S. military. After this, Interior is supposed to give the patent conveying to the CNMI all rights, titles, and interests of the United States in deposits of oil, gas, and other minerals in the 3-mile submerged lands surrounding nine of its 14 islands.

The governor needs to sign off on the Interior document to signal his acceptance of the rights, on behalf of the CNMI.

Once the final patent conveying mineral rights is done, the CNMI can then seek out or entertain prospective seafloor mining companies. Seafloor mining can potentially infuse millions of dollars into CNMI coffers

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