NM flunks corporate subsidy
—NEW MEXICO VOICES FOR CHILDREN
According to a major report released on November 15, New Mexico
is among the states that do a dismal job of making information about
economic development subsidies available to the public.
The report, “The State of State Disclosure: An Evaluation
of Online Public Information about Economic Development Subsidies,
Procurement Contracts, and Lobbying Activities,” was released
by Good Jobs First, a Washington, DC-based policy group.
Out of a possible score of thirty-three on subsidy disclosure,
New Mexico scored zero (or 0%). Iowa did best on this measure, with
82%. Economic development subsidies most often take the form of
tax breaks and incentives. New Mexico scored better on disclosing
procurement contracts (81%) and lobbying activities (61%).
“Transparency is extremely important for good government,”
said Bill Jordan, Policy Director for New Mexico Voices for Children.
“Taxpayers have a right to know how their money is being spent
and whether investments in economic development are paying off for
New Mexico families,” he added. “Taxpayer money that’s
invested in economic development must result in good paying jobs,
affordable housing, and other things that directly benefit families
Procurement contracts for goods or services purchased by the state
are overseen by the State Purchasing Division. The report gave its
website high marks for accessibility and consistency, but it lost
points because the database is not searchable by vendor name.
Lobbying activity is overseen by the Secretary of State’s
office. The report gave its website high marks because the data
is current and goes back at least three years. But the issues on
which lobbyists work are not disclosed.
The full report, as well as summaries and tables, can be found
Udall hails passage of Hardrock Mining and Reclamation
U.S. Representative Tom Udall, D-NM, made the following statement
in support of legislation to reform the 1892 Mining Act. The bill,
H.R. 2262, the Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act, passed the House
in November by a vote of 244-166.
“The Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act takes long overdue
action to reform the 1872 Mining Act. That law, the General Mining
Act of 1872, was written to encourage westward expansion and to
generate the supply of minerals needed in our nation. Back in 1872,
a charge of $5 an acre to mine hardrock minerals in remote areas
of the undeveloped west was probably a pretty fair price. The fact
that the price is still the same today is simply ludicrous.
“As a result, private companies, both domestic and foreign,
have been able to profit handsomely by mining on public lands without
the need to pay the American people any royalties or to even clean
up the messes they leave behind. By some estimates, the antiquated
1872 Mining Act has allowed over $245 billion dollars worth of minerals
to be extracted from more than 3.4 million acres of public lands
without returning to the American people—the owners of those
lands—a single cent in royalties. Today, we took a necessary
step toward bringing this policy into the modern era.
“H.R. 2262, introduced by Representative Nick Rahall, the
Chairman of the Natural Resources committee, requires mining companies
to pay royalties to the American people for the minerals they mine
from public lands and to properly reclaim lands damaged by mining.
It also allows for the prohibition of mining on environmentally-sensitive
lands, and it creates a fund to begin the clean-up of nearly a half
million abandoned mine sites. I sincerely hope that the Hardrock
Mining and Reclamation Act sees swift passage in the other chamber
so we can send it to the President to be signed into law. Even though
we’ve already waited 135 years to take action on this matter,
time is truly of the essence. In 1872, hardrock mining mostly took
place in the middle of vast undeveloped lands. Today, however, with
over 375,000 mining claims spread throughout the rapidly developing
west, some of our last pieces of unspoiled lands are threatened.
According to the New York Times, many of those 375,000 claims are
within five miles of eleven major national parks, including Death
Valley and the Grand Canyon.
“Over 89,000 of those claims were staked in 2006, largely
due to the renewed interest in nuclear energy and the concomitant
increase in the price of uranium. In New Mexico alone, almost two
thousand claims were staked in 2006. Many New Mexicans, most particularly
members of the Navajo Nation, have already suffered devastating
injuries from uranium mining in the past. H.R. 2262 will bring some
much-needed balance to the use of our public lands and, in so doing,
help protect the health of our citizens.”
Udall is a former member of the House Natural Resources Committee.
Major hardrock minerals developed in the West include copper, silver,
gold, lead, zinc, molybdenum, and uranium. The bill has been referred
to the Senate’s Committee on Energy and Natural Resources,
where it awaits further action.