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Public Statements

Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act of 2011

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

* Mr. PAUL. Mr. Chair, I rise reluctantly to oppose this legislation that authorizes a land exchange between the federal government and a private company to benefit that company's commercial interests. The bill conveys 2,400 acres of federal lands to Resolution Copper, an Australian mining company, in exchange for 5,300 acres of Resolution Copper's land to the federal government. In principle, I am strongly in favor of the privatization of federal government land and I only wish we would do more of it. This is not the way to privatize federal land, however. Rather than determine the real market value of the land, such as through a public auction process, the legislation names the company to receive the land with the stipulation that a yearly assessment of the land may result in a value adjustment payment to the federal government by that company. This additional fee would be paid to a special fund controlled by the Department of the Interior.

* Absent any free market mechanism to determine the real value of the land being conveyed, this looks like a special deal for one company. Even with the best intentions and intelligence on the part of the government, only free market mechanisms can accurately determine value.

* Also, doing the math on this bill it will result in the federal government controlling more land than before the bill! So rather than a privatization program it is an anti-privatization program.

* I am all for privatization of federal lands, and I am all for private industry profiting from this country's labor and natural resources. However, setting up these public/private partnerships and special deals is not the way to go about it. I sincerely hope that we will re-think this approach in favor of an open and public auction where as many companies may compete as might have an interest, even if we must change existing laws to do so.

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