Washington, D.C. – Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, the ranking member of the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, today asked 14 major oil, gas, coal and hardrock mining companies to turn over information on their profits from extraction efforts on federally leased property and the royalties those companies have returned to taxpayers from the projects. The letters follow a Sept. 22 request he and Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) sent to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study the profits and royalty returns from all companies leasing federal property in fiscal year 2010.
Copies of the 14 standardized letters Grijalva sent today are available under “Environment and Energy Policies” at http://grijalva.house.gov/letters-oversight/. As an example, the letter to Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private coal company, is at /sites/grijalva.house.gov/files/migrated/uploads/Peabody%20Energy.pdf.
“It’s time to stop giving our public land and resources away to companies that send their profits overseas, don’t hire local labor, and sell their product to the highest global bidder instead of building American industry,” Grijalva said in releasing the letters. “Our mineral wealth and public lands belong to the American taxpayers and held in trust by the federal government, but for too long they’ve been handed out to private companies that only care about the short-term bottom line. It’s time they open their books to public scrutiny and show us how much they’re making from cheap leases and how much they’re giving back to the public.”
As Hearst Newspapers writes this morning, “Although the U.S. government collects royalties for oil and gas extracted from public lands and federal waters, the same isn’t true for hard rock mining of silver, gold, copper and other minerals on federal land. The federal government currently does not collect royalties for mineral development on public land.”
The letter recipients – meant to be a representative sampling of various industries, rather than an exhaustive list – include Alpha Natural Resources, Barrick Gold Company, BG Americas & Global LNG, BHP Billiton, BP America, CONSOL Energy, Denison Mines (USA), ExxonMobil, Freeport McMoRan, Peabody Energy, Rio Tinto Minerals, Rio Tinto Copper, Shell Oil and Total Holdings USA.
The GAO study is expected to be concluded next summer. Grijalva writes in today’s letters that while he looks forward to the study’s completion,
As Grijalva writes in the letters, “Taxpayers rightly demand the maximum financial benefit from publicly owned property and commodities, and in this tough economy we need accurate information to make the best fiscal decisions for our nation.”