For the first time, U.S. residents will have access to data that documents how much individual companies are paying for the extraction of natural resources from public lands, as well as a more accurate picture of job creation and economic impact in the 18 states with the most drilling and mining activity in the U.S.
The data, much of it previously unavailable to the public or scattered among dozens of different agencies, is part of a groundbreaking report released this morning by the U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (USEITI), a federal advisory committee created three years ago to help bring the United States in line with international standards. The committee comprises industry, government, and civil society representatives. POGO’s executive director, Danielle Brian, serves as chair of the civil society sector, representing the interests of taxpayers, labor unions, environmental organizations, tribal communities, academics, and other non-governmental stakeholders.
The new information in the report includes the amount of royalties paid by companies for extracting oil, gas, and coal from federal lands, production volumes of natural resources being extracted on an annual basis, the impact of tax breaks and other subsidies, and details about the fiscal impact on featured communities. Users can access the USEITI report via a new website, which includes interactive and downloadable data that allows the public to take a deep dive into the information.
“One of the significant features of this report is that its content is the result of consensus between industry, government, and civil society. The purpose of this report is to help inform public debate about natural resource extraction management and policies. I’m hoping this new information will pique the curiosity of taxpayers and natural resource-rich communities and spur them to demand even more information,” Brian said.
Among the report’s revelations is that geothermal renewable resources on federal lands are resulting in significantly more revenues for taxpayers than are paid by companies mining the copper, gold, and iron, which pay no royalties to taxpayers in exchange for extracting those metals from public lands. The report also reveals that although companies have paid billions of dollars into the federal Abandoned Mine Land fund, there are questions about where big chunks of this money have gone.
“As ambitious as this report is, our biggest challenge for next year will be expanding corporate income tax reporting, given that even some companies represented on the committee did not report their tax payments this year. We will also need to incorporate more information about state and tribal natural resource extraction,” Brian said.
In creating the report, USEITI went beyond federal transparency guidelines for advisory committees. USEITI made all of the minutes from its subcommittee meetings, as well as its full committee meetings, available to the public.