Natural Resources, CCP Select Committee Ranking Members Request Inquiry into Foreign-Controlled Companies Mining Our Public Lands

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) led a request to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to examine the extent to which foreign-controlled companies are extracting minerals from our federally-managed public lands, as well as recommendations for ensuring that these companies comply with U.S. environmental and human rights standards.

The full list of signers includes Ranking Member Grijalva, Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Ranking Member Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), Water, Wildlife, and Fisheries Subcommittee Ranking Member Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member Melanie Stansbury (D-N.M.), Federal Lands Subcommittee Ranking Member Joe Neguse (D-Colo.), and Indian and Insular Affairs Subcommittee Ranking Member Teresa Leger Fernández (D-N.M.).

In their letter, the lawmakers point out the flaws of our more than 150-year-old Mining Law of 1872, which has no environmental or tribal consultation requirements and allows companies to extract minerals from our public lands without paying a cent in royalties to American taxpayers. This outdated, poorly regulated mining system opens the door to potential exploitation of our public lands by foreign entities, including adversarial nations. The authors write, in part:

“Unlike oil and gas or coal mining, hardrock mining companies do not pay any royalties for the publicly owned minerals they extract. We do not know how many foreign-owned mining companies, some based in adversarial countries with histories of illegal mining practices and environmental violations, take our minerals for free and too often leave the cost of cleanup and perpetual pollution control to the American people.

“Calls to expand production on federal lands as a solution to foreign dependence have not addressed the extent to which bad actors are controlling and profiting from domestic mineral extraction. If the U.S. is to combat human rights violations and environmental damage across the supply chain, it must begin at home.”

Later today, the House will vote on H.R. 2925 (Amodei, R-Nev.), the so-called Mining Regulatory Clarity Act, which doubles down on the flaws of the Mining Law of 1872 to make it even easier for foreign adversaries or other bad actors to lock up our public lands with mining claims.

The bill was also up for a House vote last week but suffered a procedural setback when Republicans broke ranks to vote with Democrats on a motion to recommit the bill to committee. As the bill was being reconsidered this week, both Republicans and Democrats proposed amendments that would ban foreign adversaries from making mining claims, but those amendments were not made in order.

READ the full request to GAO here. 

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