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.
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.
Federal agencies are required, at times, to consult with tribes on infrastructure projects like pipelines that may harm tribal natural and cultural resources.
According to tribal and agency officials, there are several factors making these consultations less effective.
Puget Sound is the nation's second largest estuary, supporting millions of people and a wide variety of species. Development and use, however, have degraded its water quality and habitat, and harmed critical species like salmon and killer whales.
What GAO Found The Departments of Agriculture (USDA), the Interior, Defense (DOD), and Energy (DOE) have identified thousands of contaminated and potentially contaminated sites on land they manage but do not have a complete inventory of sites, in particular, for abandoned mines.
What GAO FoundThe Task Force agencies use the Action Plan to implement the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) and use an interagency process to enter into agreements among themselves to identify GLRI projects and with other stakeholders to implement GLRI projects.
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.