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.
Federal lands are a major source of hardrock minerals such as gold, silver, and copper. These minerals have an important role in the U.S. and global economies, but mining them can create public health, safety, and environmental hazards.
More severe and frequent extreme weather events threaten U.S. infrastructure. In 2020, 22 natural disasters caused over $100 billion in damages. Reducing the vulnerability of buildings, roads, and other federal assets can reduce costs to the government.
Hardrock minerals (e.g., gold and silver) play a significant role in U.S. and global economies. In 2018, hardrock minerals extracted worldwide were valued at about $981 billion.
We reviewed how some foreign countries, U.S. states, and tribal governments manage hardrock mining.
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.
Since the 1960s, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement has allowed the offshore oil and gas industry to leave 97% of pipelines (18,000 miles) on the seafloor when no longer in use. Pipelines can contain oil or gas if not properly cleaned in decommissioning.
Certain coastal lands provide protection from storms and rich habitats for fish and wildlife. A 1982 law limits federal spending in these areas—known as the Coastal Barrier Resources System—to discourage development.
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.