Washington, D.C. – Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, ranking member of the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, and Sen. Tom Udall, a member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, have formally requested a Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation of corporate profits and public financial benefits from mineral and oil extraction on federal lands. The lawmakers sent a letter to GAO earlier this month, which Rep. Grijalva will release publicly at a Sept. 22 press conference. Details of the event are below.
“The idea that we need to open even more public land to oil, gas and hardrock exploration for the greater economic good is a fantasy,” Grijalva said in announcing the press conference. “The public hasn’t been getting a fair return on the commercialization of its natural resources for generations, and Sen. Udall and I are not alone in demanding some answers. Public land giveaways without benefits for taxpayers are unacceptable, and we hope GAO is able to shed light on a better way forward.”
“An objective analysis of the business of mining and mineral leasing on federal lands is long overdue,” Sen. Udall said. “America’s abundance of natural resources belong to the public and should benefit the nation as a whole — especially at times of large budget deficits. The public deserves transparency on the economic return to the taxpayers from leasing federal land to private developers. This non-partisan GAO study will clarify the value of the natural resources that come off of our public lands, and how the proceeds are distributed among the developers and the public.”
According to a Department of the Interior report released earlier this year, about 57 percent of lands leased to oil and gas companies for development – approximately 21.6 million acres – are idle. At the same time, the United States has been a net exporter of oil over the past six months, according to the Energy Information Administration.
Grijalva Press Conference Details
Where: 1629 Longworth House Office Building
When: Thursday, Sept. 22, 9:00 a.m.
What: Public release of Grijalva/Udall GAO study request letter and media Q & A