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Corporate Welfare Alive and Well on U.S. Public Lands ("literally giving our gold and silver away")

2 min. read

After reading this article, please don't anyone tell us that wasteful corporate welfare isn't alive and well in the federal budget.

The federal government has no idea how much gold, copper and other hard-rock minerals are being extracted from public lands each year — nor how much the minerals are worth — because the companies licensed to operate the mines pay no royalties, according to a reportthe Government Accountability Office will make public Wednesday.

The new report, requested by Rep. Raul M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), could spur a renewed push to reform the 140-year-old law governing U.S. hard-rock mining. Under the General Mining Act of 1872, the government charges mining companies $189 to locate a claim and then $140 annually to maintain it after the first year. What the companies extract from public terrain is theirs to sell on the open market.


“This should be front and center of the natural resource agenda for this next administration,” Udall said in a phone interview. “These hard-rock minerals belong to the American people, and today we’re quite literally giving our gold and silver away.”

Add this article to the multitude of examples in which the federal government uses taxpayer money to subsidize wealthy corporations. For instance, the shale gas "fracking" boom is largely the result of federal funding.  Then there's the $70 billion in fossil fuel subsidies by the U.S. government in 2002-2008 alone. And that's not even counting the $500 billion per year in health care and environmental costs due to coal production and combustion in this country - an implicit subsidy, as it allows the polluter to get away with not paying for the damage it causes. This list could go on and on, but the bottom line is simple: corporate welfare, on a massive scale, is alive and well on U.S. public lands.