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.
Hardrock minerals, like gold and copper, are crucial for modern technology. But mining can create lasting health hazards and contamination.
This report describes, among other things, stakeholder views on management of hardrock mining on federal lands.
Agencies within the Department of the Interior use 3 data systems to oversee oil and gas development on leased federal lands. The data systems process permits for drilling wells, among other things.
The systems are aging and create oversight challenges for the department.
Federal onshore oil and gas leases generate about $3 billion a year in federal revenues. Leases are sold in competitive auctions. If there aren't adequate bids in an auction, leases can be sold noncompetitively.
The Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management oversees energy production on federal lands and collects royalties to help ensure a fair return for taxpayers.
Oil and gas producers faced a sharp drop in demand during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mining on federal lands can produce minerals such as gold, copper, coal, and phosphate. Several laws govern such mining. Depending on the type of federal land and what kind of mineral is produced, mine operators may or may not have to pay the government a royalty.
A large 2017 wildfire in southwest Oregon destroyed 6 homes and threatened thousands more. Its smoke also contributed to respiratory and other health problems in nearby communities and hurt businesses and workers.
The Bureau of Land Management manages oil and gas development on federal lands and processes drilling applications. Each year it receives more applications than it can review. It also approves more permits than operators use.
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.