After Breitbart Texas reported on the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) intent to seize 90,000 acres belonging to Texas landholders along the Texas/Oklahoma line, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott questioned the BLM’s authority to take such action.
“I am about ready,” General Abbott told Breitbart Texas, “to go to the Red River and raise a ‘Come and Take It’ flag to tell the feds to stay out of Texas.”
Gen. Abbott sent a strongly-worded letter to BLM Director Neil Kornze, asking for answers to a series of questions related to the potential land grab.
“I am deeply concerned about the notion that the Bureau of Land Management believes the federal government has the authority to swoop in and take land that has been owned and cultivated by Texas landowners for generations,” General Abbott wrote. “The BLM’s newly asserted claims to land along the Red River threaten to upset long-settled private property rights and undermine fundamental principles—including the rule of law—that form the foundation of our democracy. Yet, the BLM has failed to disclose either its full intentions or the legal justification for its proposed actions. Decisions of this magnitude must not be made inside a bureaucratic black box.”
In an exclusive interview with Breitbart Texas, General Abbott said, “This is the latest line of attack by the Obama Administration where it seems like they have a complete disregard for the rule of law in this country …And now they’ve crossed the line quite literally by coming into the State of Texas and trying to claim Texas land as federal land. And, as the Attorney General of Texas I am not going to allow this.”
Abbott challenged the BLM director directly stating in his letter, “Nearly a century ago, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that the gradient line of the south bank of the Red River—subject to the doctrines of accretion and avulsion—was the boundary between Texas and Oklahoma. Oklahoma v. Texas, 260 U.S. 606 (1923). More recently, in 1994, the BLM stated that the Red River area was “[a] unique situation” and stated that ‘[t]he area itself cannot be defined until action by the U.S. Congress establishes the permanent state boundary between Oklahoma and Texas.’ Further, the BLM determined that one possible scenario was legislation that established the ‘south geologic cut bank as the boundary,’ which could have resulted ‘in up to 90,000 acres’ of newly delineated federal land. But no such legislation was ever enacted.”
As to what kind of standoff might Texas might be facing with the BLM on this matter, Abbott said, “I think that we should be able to resolve this from a legal standpoint because, I believe, what the BLM is doing clearly violates the law. They don’t have any legal standing whatsoever to do this and that’s why I have issued this letter today.”
In the letter, Gen. Abbott details five issues for the BLM to address:
- Please delineate with specificity each of the steps for the RMP/EIS process for property along the Red River.
- Please describe the procedural due process the BLM will afford to Texans whose property may be claimed by the federal government.
- Please confirm whether the BLM agrees that, from 1923 until the ratification of the Red River Boundary Compact, the boundary between Texas and Oklahoma was the gradient line of the south bank of the Red River. To the extent the BLM does not agree, please provide legal analysis supporting the BLM’s position.
- Please confirm whether the BLM still considers Congress’ ratification of the Red River Boundary Compact as determinative of its interest in land along the Red River? To the extent the BLM does not agree, please provide legal analysis supporting the BLM’s new position.
- Please delineate with specificity the amount of Texas territory that would be impacted by the BLM’s decision to claim this private land as the property of the federal government.
“The letter today,” Abbott explained, “is the first shot in the legal process. We expect answers from them and based upon their answers we will decide what legal action to take.”
“What Barack Obama’s BLM is doing,” Abbott continued, “is so out of bounds and so offensive that we should have quick and successful legal action if they dare attempt to tread on Texas land and take it from private property owners in this state.”
As to the timeline of how this matter moves forward Abbott explained that it is hard to tell how quickly or slowly the BLM might move on this matter. “One of the problems is, we can’t tell what they’re doing other than trying to operate in very suspicious ways. We want to make sure they are going to be open and transparent about what they are doing and that constitutional due process rights are going to be protected.”
Abbott told Breitbart Texas he wants to make sure the BLM understands that what they appear to be attempting to do is completely illegal. “This is Texas land. It belongs to Texas and the private property owners here,” Abbott firmly stated. “If we have to, we will assert quick and effective legal action to put a stop to it.”
Abbott said the next step now is for the BLM to respond to his letter and the five points detailed above. “The way these things work is,” Abbott explained, “what they say in response will lead to more questions. I anticipate another round of questions will follow in response to their answers.”
At that point, Abbott said it should be clear that either Texas will be taking legal action to stop them or the BLM will be backing off because they have no legal basis to support “their wrongful attempt to take Texas land.”
The BLM currently maintains roughly 40,000 acres of land in Collin County around Lake Lavon. When asked about this land, Abbott responded, “We’re looking at anything and everything BLM either has or is considering doing across the State of Texas. Anytime we see land grabs like this by federal authorities, it raises red flags that cause us to look into the full extent of their operations.”
Abbott said this issue comes down to a fundamental principle and that is, “private property rights and the rule of law are the foundation of democracy. Repeatedly we see the Obama Administration erode that foundation of democracy. As Attorney General, I will be restoring that bedrock foundation by restoring and protecting private property rights and the rule of law in Texas.”
Abbott summarized his position thusly, “If I have to, I will make this our 31st lawsuit against the Obama Administration.”