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The President's News Conference

March 15, 1929


THE PRESIDENT. I have a number of questions on oil conservation. I can summarize it into about the following statement:

"Not only do we propose to stop the issue of development permits over public domain and other lands in control of the Government., but, because these permits constitute the first step in leases, Secretary [of the Interior] Wilbur proposes to review all outstanding permits to determine their status. Where the holders are complying with the law, they need have no anxiety as to retrospective action in the matter. Our purpose has been to stop the future issue of these permits and leases. But there are some 34,000 of these permits that have been issued since the law was passed in President Wilson's administration. There are some 20,000 of them still outstanding. They all require some activity in drilling. It is a certainty that there are not 20,000 wells in process of being built at the present moment on public domain under exploration permits. Therefore, some considerable portion of these permits must have fallen Into inaction, and we want to inquire into their status with the hope that we can reduce the amount of outstanding permits without hardship. [p.26] So that I have approved the suggestion of Secretary Wilbur that he should appoint a committee representing the various bureaus concerned to take in hand the review of all of the outstanding permits.

"I saw some suggestion that the Western States might resent conservation measures on oil. Being somewhat familiar with the sentiment of the Western States, I can say at once that that is not true. No one is more anxious for conservation of our oil resources than the Western States themselves. They know there is a limit to oil supplies, and that the time will come when the Nation will need this oil much more than it is needed now. In fact, there are no half measures in oil conservation. Either we stop the alienation of Government oil territory or we do not--and we propose to stop it."

You can check up that statement from the shorthand notes so that you will have it accurately.


I have also some questions relating to South American airmail service, and I have a statement here from the Postmaster General that covers the major points in these questions which you can quote from, and I will have some copies made for you. He says:

"It is expected that under the present contracts the South American airmail service will be in operation some time in April or May. The route will include Cuba, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. It is expected that the service will be rapidly developed into Venezuela, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil.

"In its initial stages service will be three times a week and will be conducted by day flying. Mail will require approximately 6 days from New York to Peru on this basis as against 12 or 15 days by present routes. As the service develops, no doubt, night flying will be undertaken and the time greatly shortened."


I also have some questions as to Mr. Burke, Commissioner of Indian Affairs. Mr. Burke asked to be relieved as Commissioner of Indian [p.27] Affairs. I have the highest esteem for Judge Burke, and I appreciate his very long and devoted service to the country, and I propose a little later to offer him another important position in public service.

I think that is all the questions for quotation. The rest of them I can answer for background for you.


One question asks what we have done with respect to the Federal Radio Commission, and I am unable to answer that at the moment. We are still considering the question.


Another question bears on the appointments that have been made for the American delegates to attend the European Broadcasting Conference at Prague, April 4.1 Those appointments have been made, and Mr. W. D. Terrell, who is the head of the Radio Division of the Department of Commerce, will lead the delegation and leave at once for Prague.

1 The Government of Czechoslovakia had invited the United States to send observers to the conference to discuss the allocation of short waves for Europe.


There are some questions on the flood in Alabama. The Secretary of War has already, through the Corps Area Commander, offered to take any steps necessary to give the full support of the Federal Government to the local authorities in service to the people suffering from that flood.


Then there are a number of other questions. Some of them bear on policies as to agriculture and the tariff. I propose to deal with these matters in my message to Congress, and I do not care to enter into any debate on them prior to that time.


The press arrangements have been more or less crystallized down to three categories of questions.

The first category--those that I will endeavor to answer for you for quotation, or in some cases, as in this one about the airmail, secure for you a complete answer from the responsible official, which can be used. And I will endeavor to cover as many of the important public questions as possible.

The second category--questions which are on matters of secondary interest on which the President does not like to be scattered all over the newspapers in discussing minor and secondary questions; and in the replies to these the view of your committee 2 and myself was that if they could be attributed as from the White House or the administration, but I think you will agree with me that it is not desirable for me to comment on everything in the world, and that if I were put in that position I would have to be somewhat reticent, whereas under that sort of a heading I will be able to give you as much material as possible.

2 A committee of news bureau and wire service heads formed to assist the President in the development of news conferences.

The third category--purely background questions that are more or less factual on things on which you don't want any authority attributed, and you don't have to use it if you don't want it.


Now there are some questions that arise there--some questions as to Mexico. There is nothing that we have in the way of information further than that in the press, except possibly the belief that there is a tendency of the troops to return to their allegiance to the Government-not very strong yet but evidenced in some minor points.


There are some questions about the reorganization of the Federal departments. That matter I would not take up, naturally, until the long session, and we will be engaged in consideration of it up [to] that time; but it is too early to begin to discuss it now. However, nothing concrete will be developed for some months.


There are some questions in respect to the situation in China. It appears that there is some consideration of alarm over contentions in China again, but I am advised that there is nothing in it that seriously threatens any disturbance. There are some negotiations going on between the different groups as to the setup of the Nanking Government, but it does not spread to any disruption of China.

That, I think, covers everything that I am able to cover on this occasion.

Note: President Hoover's fourth news conference was held in the White House at 4 p.m. on Friday, March 15, 1929. The White House also issued a text of the President's statement on oil conservation policies (see Item 9)

Herbert Hoover, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/209194

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