By Erin Kelly
Rep. Raul Grijalva on Thursday asked the investigative arm of Congress to look into whether the American people are getting a fair share of the profits that oil, mining, timber and other industries reap when they remove natural resources from public land.
Grijalva, the senior Democrat on the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, ask the Government Accountability Office to do the study. The GAO said it will act on the request, which Grijalva made with Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M.
"We feel there is a taxpayer responsibility that we have as elected officials, especially in these fiscal times." Grijalva said at a press conference Thursday. "Here we have public lands owned by the American people, in which significant economic activity is going on. We're asking a simple question: How much activity is going on, and what is the return on the dollar?"
The Tucson congressman said the issue is especially crucial now because of the enormous federal deficit. If private companies pay more into the U.S. Treasury for the privilege of logging, mining and drilling for oil on public land, it would reduce the deficit and create more revenue for programs that benefit the American people, Grijalva said.
The GAO report is expected to come out by the middle of next year.