Yesterday, President Obama released his proposed FY 2013 budget. Once again Earthworks would like to thank the President for continuing to take on the hardrock mining industry from receiving a free ride on taxpayers while continuing to evade paying for over $50 billion in pollution from unreclaimed mine sites.
The antiquated 1872 Mining Law essentially allows the mining industry to harvest precious minerals from our public lands for free. To collect a fair return for taxpayers, the President proposes instituting a leasing program under the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 for certain hardrock minerals. This system will allow taxpayers to receive a royalty from the precious metals extracted from public lands in the same way as the oil and gas industry.
The 2013 budget request for the Department of Interior includes proposals estimated to save a net of $2.5 billion over the next ten years. In particular, the President’s budget reforms the Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Reclamation program for abandoned hardrock sites with a fee on the production of hardrock minerals on both public and private lands.
Other reforms include:
• Fees on non-producing oil and gas leases to encourage development of our Nation’s domestic energy resources;
• Instituting permanent net receipts sharing for energy minerals;
• Charging a royalty for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico
• Increasing onshore and offshore oil and gas inspection fees to require industry to cover more of the costs of overseeing their operations
In addition to the revenue raising measures related to hardrock mining, the President also proposes to move forward with their fracking study. A $13 million increase this year will fund work with the Department of Energy, United States Geological Survey, and the Environmental Protection Agency on a research and development initiative aimed at understanding and minimizing potential environmental, health, and safety impacts of shale gas development and production through hydraulic fracturing.
This, in addition to numerous programs related to spurring the development of clean energy technologies, represents an important step forward in boosting our economy while protecting public health and the environment.