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Show Us the Money: GAO Request for Mining Revenues

September 23, 2011

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Two Western members of Congress say more information is needed as Congress makes decisions about the federal budget, and about opening up more land in New Mexico and other states to mining and drilling, under the argument that it's a good move for jobs and the economy.

Arizona Representative Raul Grijalva and New Mexico Senator Tom Udall - both Democrats - have requested that the General Accounting Office provide numbers for mining on federal lands, most of which are in the West. Rep. Grijalva says we already know that hard-rock mining, including uranium, pays no federal royalties.

"How much has the taxpayer lost? How much is this land really worth? And what should be the parameters in the future in order to collect a fair return for the American taxpayer?"

Mary Lee Ortega, president of the group Organizers in the Land of Enchantment (OLE), says that, at a time when federal budget decisions are hurting those already down, it makes sense to take a look at sharing the rich resources on public lands.

"We own these lands as a society, as citizens, as the taxpayer. And we have the right to know exactly what we're getting for our dollar, or what is the return on our dollar?"

Copper, oil, gas, coal, phosphate and gold are examples of minerals extracted from federal lands throughout the West that will be included in the report.

Copy of the letter posted at§iontree=5.

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - NM