Rand Simberg has a plan. "A proposed law requiring the United States to recognize land claims off planet under specified conditions offers the possibility of legal, tradable land titles, allowing the land to be used as loan collateral or an asset to be sold to raise funds needed to develop it."
Here's the first problem. In the original Homestead Act, the United States gave away property rights to individuals to fairly small plots of land within its own sovereign territory. Currently, by treaty, the U.S. has renounced sovereign claims to territory on the moon.
But Simberg has a solution. Instead of giving away part of what it claims to own, the U.S. will simply "recognize" private claims on something it doesn't.
So, the U.S. will recognize property rights to 600,000 square miles of the moon, a territory bigger than Alaska, to a private entity (almost certainly a corporation) that does certain things.
The problem is this. The U.S. can do this, but no other nation is obliged to respect that decision, so the property rights so created are about as tradable and valuable as novelty deeds to lunar real estate.
Suppose the hypothetical YoYoDyne corporation launches a moonbase funded by sales of shares in the Lunar fiefdom recognized by the U.S. law, and starts strip-mining Shackleton Crater, where they have identified subsurface ice.
And a month later, competing firms from Europe, Russia, Japan and China drop landers into the same crater, and start their own operations. What recourse does YoYoDyne have? Very little, and a unilateral U.S. law based on recognition rather than sovereignty does little to change that.
That seems like a show stopper right there.