GAO’s reports and testimonies give Congress, federal agencies, and the public timely, fact-based, non-partisan information that can improve government operations and save taxpayers billions of dollars.
We surveyed people whose email addresses were attached to public comments on proposed rules from 10 federal agencies. From 5% to 30% of the people (depending on the agency) said they did not make the comment. At 8 agencies, most of the comments did not have email addresses.
Until the 1970s, mine operators could mine for valuable hardrock minerals—i.e., gold or copper—then abandon the land. On lands they oversee, federal agencies identified about 140,000 remnants of these hardrock mines, including unsecured tunnels and toxic waste piles.
When federal agencies propose new rules, they usually provide an opportunity for public comment, but agencies aren't required to collect or verify commenters' identity information.
Mass mailing campaigns can result in thousands of duplicate comments.
What GAO FoundAs with conventional oil and gas development, requirements from eight federal environmental and public health laws apply to unconventional oil and gas development. For example, the Clean Water Act (CWA) regulates discharges of pollutants into surface waters.
What GAO Found The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Forest Service, and the Department of Energy (DOE) are the key agencies that oversee uranium exploration and extraction on federal land, but GAO identified three areas where their oversight processes differ.
The General Mining Act of 1872 helped foster the development of the West by giving individuals exclusive rights to mine gold, silver, copper, and other hardrock minerals on federal land. However, miners often abandoned mines, leaving behind structures, safety hazards, and contaminated land and water.
The Department of the Interior (Interior) leases public lands for oil and natural gas development, which generated about $9 billion in royalties in 2009. Some gas produced on these leases cannot be easily captured and is released (vented) directly to the atmosphere or is burned (flared).