President Barack Obama issued an Executive Order on March 16 giving the White House absolute control over all the country’s natural resources in case of a natural disaster or during a time of war.
In the order, the National Defense Resources Preparedness Order, the President granted to himself the authority to approve the dispensing of all domestic energy, production, transportation, food, and water supplies as he deems necessary to protect national security.
Despite the national defense hurdle that ostensibly must be jumped in order for the order to take effect, the text of the document itself does not limit implementation to a time of war. In fact, the specific sections of the order make it clear that the President can take complete command and control of the country’s natural resources in peacetime, as well.
In fact, the President can invoke the powers of this order to “meet national defense requirements” in “the full spectrum of emergencies.” The relevant sections read:
Section 101. Purpose. This order delegates authorities and addresses national defense resource policies and programs under the Defense Production Act of 1950, as amended (the "Act").
Sec. 102. Policy. The United States must have an industrial and technological base capable of meeting national defense requirements and capable of contributing to the technological superiority of its national defense equipment in peacetime and in times of national emergency. The domestic industrial and technological base is the foundation for national defense preparedness. The authorities provided in the Act shall be used to strengthen this base and to ensure it is capable of responding to the national defense needs of the United States.
Sec. 103. General Functions. Executive departments and agencies (agencies) responsible for plans and programs relating to national defense (as defined in section 801(j) of this order), or for resources and services needed to support such plans and programs, shall:
(a) identify requirements for the full spectrum of emergencies, including essential military and civilian demand;
(b) assess on an ongoing basis the capability of the domestic industrial and technological base to satisfy requirements in peacetime and times of national emergency, specifically evaluating the availability of the most critical resource and production sources, including subcontractors and suppliers, materials, skilled labor, and professional and technical personnel;
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Photo of President Obama: AP Images