On Divestiture and the Creation of Property Rights in Public Lands

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The immense petroleum and gas wealth potential of state and federal lands in Alaska—a state that is relatively poor in private wealth—together with changes in the political climate in Alaska and generally in the Western states, has produced a variety of proposals designed to increase private access to these lands...This paper sets forth some criteria for evaluating any proposed divestiture of rights to public land, examines some historical and current proposals for divestiture in terms of these criteria, and attempts to articulate in some detail a comprehensive program for auctioning all rights to public lands over the next few decades.


This article was originally published in the Cato Journal, volume 2, issue 3, in 1982.

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Cato Institute