This act was designed to "promote the mining of coal, phosphate, oil, oil shale, gas and sodium on the public domain". Following oil shortages after WWI, Congress passed this legislation; the U.S. Geological Survey states, "Under the terms of that act, mineral lands were to be leased by competitive bidding, and royalties and other income were to be divided between the Federal Government and the States. The Survey's responsibility for classification of mineral lands was again changed; its major task became the determination of the known geological structure of producing oil or gas fields within which oil and gas leases would be issued. Congress then for the first time appropriated funds for the classification of public lands, which in turn were allotted to the field branches."
The act was signed into law on February 25, 1920.