Category Archives: Mining

Not Very Home On The Range? Romney and Public Land

Former Governor Willard Mitt Romney doesn’t seem very ‘home on the range,’ that is, he’s not sure what the purpose of public land might be.   He told Nevadans:

“So I haven’t studied it, what the purpose is of the land, so I don’t want to say, “Oh, I’m about to hand it over.” But where government ownership of land is designed to satisfy, let’s say, the most extreme environmentalists, from keeping a population from developing their coal, their gold, their other resources for the benefit of the state, I would find that to be unacceptable.” [TP]

A brief primer:  Public land is public — many people use it.  And, many of the people who use it run cattle. As in cows. As in hamburger. As in Americans consumed about 26.4 billion pounds of beef in 2010. [ersUSDA ]  The USDA adds the following information:

“Range livestock production is predominate in Nevada with well over half of the farms raising cattle or sheep. The highest concentrations of cattle are in the northern part of the State. Cow-calf operations are most common type of operation and Elko county ranks among the leading counties in the Nation in number of beef cows. Northern Nevada is also home to the vast majority of the sheep.”

In these counties conversations are often sprinkled with terms like AUM’s, that’s the grazing fee set for western states.  Nevada ranchers pay a $12.50 AUM.  There’s a formula for that here. Once the cattle and calves are raised for sale, quite often on public lands,  they account for 39.2% of the total agricultural output in the state.  The output isn’t making anyone rich, 81.2% of Nevada’s farms and ranches are family owned, and the net farm income is $137,760 (this figure includes other, larger producers of potatoes, hay, etc.) [USDA]

Mining takes place on public lands in Nevada. The BLM has a handy guide describing the process for a mining company to get approval from the agency for mine operations in Nevada.  (link pdf) And, the agency notes that one very common reason for application approval delay is that the operators have provided insufficient baseline data on the proposed operation.  No one is keeping anyone away from the Gold.

Hunting and fishing happen on public lands. The Nevada Department of Wildlife is funded in four categories, and the department describes its income as follows:

“The license dollars that come in each year are used as match to the federal funds. For instance, most federal dollars require a 3-1 state match; for every $3 of a project we do using federal funds, we must add $1 of state dollars, or volunteer hours, or in-kind match (donations). In addition to license dollars a variety of other sources are also used as match, for instance nonprofit grants and Question 1 bond dollars can also be used for state match, as well as volunteer hours and in-kind match (donations of equipment.)”

We will gladly sell you a hunting license, a trapping license, a fishing license, and we will register your boat.  Nevada also sells duck stamps, trout stamps, deer tags, upland bird tags,  and mountain lion tags.  [See more]  Then we would be pleased if you stayed in our motels, bought gas from our service stations, ate in our restaurants, and purchased food from our local groceries.  We would politely ask that those happily hunting and fishing in our climes would listen when we tell you  “You can’t get there from here,” so we don’t have to engage in search and rescue attempts to find you.

What former Governor Romney appears to be grousing about are claims that wilderness areas prevent other commercial operations.  However, sauce for the Sage Hens  is also sauce for the Hungarian Partridges — and if a commercial operation invades a hunting area then there’s obviously a trade off in economic terms.  When the numbers are crunched, the total acreage set aside as wilderness in Nevada comes to 731,367, which sounds like a very big number until we convert the 109,806 square miles of this state into acreage and the number comes up as 70,275,840 acres. Thus the Wilderness designation applies to only 1.04% of our total land area.  Surely that isn’t too much to reserve for hunters, the hikers, and the fishing fans.

But, there’s nothing like getting a zinger into a GOP exchange about those “extreme environmentalists” to spice up a Republican plug for promoting the interests of polluters and exploiters.  Perhaps it’s too much to ask that GOP presidential candidates detach the epithets from words like environmental and ecological?

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Filed under 2012 election, Mining, Nevada economy, public lands, Romney

Nevada: Quick Clips

Somehow, the following information about the nascent mining industry oversight in Nevada comes as no surprise:

“And the state’s tax department acknowledged it hasn’t yet begun auditing the state’s second-largest mining company, Newmont, after spending the previous two years without a trained auditor to look at any companies’ tax deductions.

[…] The state is auditing Toronto-based Barrick Gold Corp., the state’s largest mine operator, according to Chris Nielsen, deputy director of the department of taxation.”  [LVSun]

The three year statute of limitations on tax collection enforcement cases could use an upgrade.  Why is the state limited to 3 years for collecting back taxes when the limit on filing for contract enforcement is 6 years?  Lease enforcement cases can be filed within 4 years.  [C&Assoc.]   If a corporation hasn’t been audited for two years because there are no trained auditors, and if it takes another year to do a proper audit — voilá, the statute of limitations means the state has paid for the audit, and if there are taxes due there is no way they can be collected.

We’re 46th!Nevada spends $5,735 per person on total personal health care as of 2009, the report says. The national average is $6,815. The highest per capita spending was found in Massachusetts at $9,278.” And, “On first blush it’s good news that we’re not on the high end of spending per person,” Matheis said. “But a more balanced look at the data says we have a lot of warning signs in this pool of data. It renders a number that looks like we’ve got costs under control. It actually just means we have a big access problem.”  [NevadaNewsBureau]  (emphasis added)  Read more at NRDC about HHS decisions which give state’s more flexibility to implement reforms in the new health care statutes.

Magical Mark’s (Amodei, R-NV2) rationale for blocking a middle class tax cut: “Amodei, in a telephone interview this evening with the Nevada News Bureau, said the temporary fix is unworkable for the business community and creates too much uncertainty that could threaten job creation efforts. Congress needs to approve legislation resolving these issues for a full year, he said.”   [NVNewBureau]   What we have here is a perfect expression of the Tea Party/GOP talking points in the House of Representatives, which makes Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) sound benign, “…there is no reason to hold up the short-term extension while a more comprehensive deal is being worked out.”

Item: Why is the temporary extension “unworkable” for the business community?  The extension would simply continue what’s been done for the past year. Item:  Why does this create the Awful Awful Bugbear of “uncertainty threatening job creation?”  The only “uncertainty” that truly affects job creation is DEMAND for goods and services, as DEMAND fluctuates so does hiring.   Uncertainty is created by Congressional gridlock, not the content of the legislation under consideration.

To more fully understand the House Republican caucus, read  Benen’s post today, and weep.  To more fully appreciate Senator Heller’s comments about Nevada as a blue state, and his un-electability therein, read the Gleaner, and smile.

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Filed under Amodei, Health Care, Heath Insurance, Mining, Nevada economy, nevada taxation

Brain Drains Don’t Help Raise State Business Climate Rankings

Actions are not without consequences, and Washoe County, Nevada is experiencing what happens when budget cuts meet staffing levels: Brain Drain.

In all, the county is losing hundreds of years of institutional knowledge. If the 86 who are retiring with a bonus each worked 15 years, that experience would total nearly 1,300 years.That’s experience in knowing how to get things done, making realistic projections, to picking up the phone and calling the right person for help.  [RGJ]

Those trying to find a bright spot argue that the county offices will hire people with “new perspectives…”  Perhaps, but the immediate impact will be that the individuals who fill county offices aren’t the ones who know the system, can make realistic projections about local needs, and will be those who have to ask who should be called for assistance.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first such drain in the Silver State, as of May 2011 the Desert Research Institute had lost 20 faculty members in the previous  2 1/2 years. Out of state institutions were offering more lucrative or perhaps more stable working environments.   [LVRJ]

State employees haven’t been spared either.

“And even during its period of booming growth, Nevada had the fewest public employees per capita; state employees also made significantly less on average than their counterparts in local government.

The state budget will eliminate 665 full-time positions over the next two years, under the budget signed by Sandoval, according to the budget office.” [LVSun]

The Low Tax Mantra recited with enthusiasm during every session of the Nevada Legislature evidently doesn’t include consideration of the time honored and tested advice: You Get What You Pay For.  If Nevadans aren’t willing to improve the tax structure then we can expect the predictable and logical results. (1) Brain Drain. (2) Less experienced public employees. (3) Fewer people expected to provide more services.

And, when a state doesn’t provide a strong economic infrastructure all the recitation of “No New Taxes” by all the politicians in the sage brush won’t prevent Forbes magazine from ranking the state No. 36 on its list of Best States For Business.

Ultra-conservative voices will tell us that we have a good environment for business because we have low taxes.  However, it seems that isn’t quite good enough to make the upper half of the Forbes List.  Perhaps getting ranked 49th in quality of life measurements had something to do with the overall ranking:

“In the rankings of best states for business, Nevada also was ranked poorly by Forbes at No. 49 in the subcategory of quality of life, which looks at such factors as poverty and crime rates, cost of living, school test scores, health of the population, cultural and recreational opportunities, weather conditions and the number of top-ranked colleges in each state.”

Topping the Forbes list overall is neighboring Utah, which compared to Nevada is known for having a more diverse economy, a more stable tax structure and for its investments in higher education.” [VegasInc]

Did we notice that part about “cultural and recreational opportunities?” Or, “the number of top ranked colleges,” or “more stable tax structure,” and “investments in higher education?”  It may very well be that in the enthusiasm for keeping Nevada’s taxes artificially low the state has failed to invest in those elements considered desirable by businesses seeking to expand or re-locate to other areas.

Why would a corporation consider moving its personnel into an area in which education is inadequately supported, in which family recreational activities are limited or poorly funded, in which local public services are fighting to keep experienced personnel, in which the company cannot expect the availability of research assets provided by local universities?

Unfortunately, Nevada seems to excel at the recitation of the No New Taxes incantations as if that factor alone would determine the level of economic diversification and expansion which might improve our employment outlook.

If “no new taxes” is part of a race to the bottom, Nevada is leading 35 other states to that destination.

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Filed under Mining, Nevada economy, nevada education, Nevada politics, nevada taxation, public employees

Coffee and the Papers: Ethics, Ethics, and Ethics

## Those who bemoan the lack of ethics in government and harp on “waste, fraud, and abuse,” in Nevada’s operations don’t get to have it both ways: Either you support adequate  funding for the Nevada Ethics Commission or you don’t.  [full story LV Sun] Nor, do such advocates get to minimally fund the Commission and then complain that government oversight doesn’t work because the agency is backlogged and can’t do its job.

## We’d have to wonder, if gold were discovered under St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC would we be discussing how to “quantify” the impact of the mining operations?  (A question lost on the Not-Native-Americans discussing the impact of mining at Mt. Tenabo)  [More Nevada Appeal]

##One in every 118 homes in the state of Nevada received a foreclosure filing in September, according to the foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac.”    The Republicans responded: “They got everything they wanted from Congress the first two years. Their policies are in place. And they are demonstrably not working,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Sunday.” [RGJ]    Not quite everything.

On August 30, 2009 the Senate of the United States voted down an amendment to S. 1014 which would have allowed judicial resolutions of mortgage problems, on a 45-51 vote.  [roll call 174]  Opponents of the measure cried it would reward the irresponsible and have bank customers paying for the “neighbor’s mortgage for the house with the extra bathroom.” [DWT] Bank supporters labeled the provision a “cram down.”

And so, it was left to the private sector to handle mortgage modifications, with less than admirable or effective results. The bankers won the “cram down” fight and now there’s an even greater need for “cram down” legislation:

Aside from propping up the country’s largest banks, there’s very little reason not to pass bankruptcy reform. In contrast to the Obama administration’s Home Affordable Modification Program, under which the taxpayer is partially footing the bill, court ordered mortgage cram-downs would cost the federal government nothing. Indeed, cram-down legislation requires no government bailouts or financial incentives for lenders or for borrowers. The 2009 CBO cost estimate of the proposed cram-down legislation shows that the federal government actually would have made money on the bill through the increase in bankruptcy filing fees.”  [Nation] (emphasis added)

Now, the President is about to announce plans to make it easier for homeowners to refinance mortgages.  [RGJ] The banks are still being “propped up.”

 

 

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Filed under Foreclosures, Mining, Native Americans, Nevada budget, Nevada politics

Heller: Save The Mining Industry, Worry About The Economy Later

Before the American Jobs Act was serialized for GOP consumption, Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) described what it would do for this state:

“The American Jobs Act will also put people back to work by strengthening and rebuilding this nation’s infrastructure. Investing $250 million in Nevada transportation infrastructure projects will support an estimated 3,300 jobs. Providing $258 million in state aid will prevent the layoffs of 3,600 Nevada teachers and first responders. Modernizing Nevada classrooms will provide $168 million to K-12 schools and $39 million to community colleges, supporting 2,200 jobs. These proposals, which share bipartisan support, will put teachers back in the classroom, construction workers back on job-sites, and laid-off first responders back on the job to protecting the safety of every American.”

Evidently, 3,300 construction jobs, 3,600 teaching jobs, funding for cash strapped law enforcement agencies, and millions for upgrading our school plants wasn’t enough for Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) who voted to sustain the Republican filibuster of S. 1723. [roll call 177]

Senator Reid responded to the Republican obstructionism:

“The unemployment rate remains far too high in Nevada.  We must continue our efforts to create good-paying jobs that can’t be shipped overseas, such as the 300 jobs APAC yesterday announced it will bring to our state.

“Last night, Republicans continued their obstruction by blocking a jobs bill that would support thousands of teachers and first responders in Nevada. These tactics for political gain are not going to help Nevada’s economy recover, and I call on my Republican colleagues to put partisan politics aside to support President Obama’s jobs agenda that will put Nevadans back to work.”

The Nevada unemployment rate is stuck at 13.3% [LVSun] Let’s do a little more analysis.

The stripped down AJA Senator Heller voted to prevent coming up for a vote contained funding for 3,600 teachers and first responders.

Not everyone is  at the top of the salary schedules, so let’s assume a teacher  in Washoe County would be paid approximately $33,912. [WCSD] A comparable hire in the Clark County School District would be earning $34,688. [CCSD]   A POST certified Washoe County Deputy Sheriff recruit can earn a salary in the range of $$38,646 to $52,208.  [WCShD]  In Las Vegas, the lower rung pays $4264 monthly, or $51,168 annually. [LMPD] We’ll keep the estimates at the low range.

If we could save the jobs of one teacher and one police officer in each of the two largest counties,  we’d be adding $158,414 to the local economies.  Or, approached from another direction, if the average of the four salaries is $39,603.50 then 3,600 salvaged jobs might add about $142,570,800 to the state’s economy.

One thing a stagnant unemployment rate should tell us immediately is that employers aren’t  hiring because their current levels of staffing are satisfactory to sustain customer service or supply given the current DEMAND for their goods or services.  The AJA should have been a Win-Win proposition:  School Districts keep teachers and avoid overcrowded classrooms, Law Enforcement and Public Safety agencies have the staff necessary to provide essential public services — and the state gets an injection of federal funds in its economy.

Senator Heller’s grand idea instead of supporting schools and public safety?  A gesture to the mining industry: “Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., said Wednesday he is proposing a “shot clock” measure that would require the U.S. Department of Interior to act within 45 days on proposed mining and energy projects to boost job creation.”  [EDFP]

The mining industry in Nevada, as large a presence as it may be in the rural counties, employs only about 14,000 statewide. [NMA] There are 2,700,551 Nevadans as of 2010. [Census] Approximately 36.6% of our population is either under 18 years of age or over 65, which leaves 63.4% in the “working age” group, or about 171,214,993 in the work force.  Mining employment as a percentage of the total yields 8.17% of the total workforce.  According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, what did Nevada mining contribute to the change in the annual Nevada GDP? -0.2%.  [BEA pdf] Mining accounts for approximately 2.3% of Nevada’s total GDP. [PLAN pdf]
We know Nevada’s state, county, and local agencies are facing cuts and budget shortfalls* — does the mining industry need a boost?  Not according to DETR:
“Mining has remained relatively strong due to record setting gold prices. The mining industry has benefited from global and financial uncertainty, making it a safe market for investment. It will remain so, as long as current conditions persist. Mining companies are taking advantage of high gold prices by investing more on commodity exploration or acquiring exploration companies for their vast ore deposits. The mining industry will continue seeing employment growth while gold prices remain high. Employment in this sector will increase by 3.7% in 2011, 4.0% in 2012, and 4.1% in 2013. Total employment in this sector will increase by about 1,500 jobs for the forecast period.”
When all else fails opponents can always rely on the “unfunded liability” argument. [NNB] This assertion always works nicely for pessimists.  The assumption is made at the outset that the jobs cannot be funded in the long term.  There are a couple of holes in the fabric of this logic.  First, no one promised the jobs would be long term.  While it is more difficult to attract prospective employees by offering ‘soft’ money, it can be done.  Secondly, jobs saved or added in a given community add to the total economy in terms of GDP and tax revenues.  The concept behind the AJA was to prevent a double dip back into recession, and to stabilize local revenues, both private and governmental.

If there is a logical criticism of the AJA as initially proposed it is that there were too many tax cuts (57%), which take years to “kick in” and not enough infrastructure and job stabilization funding incorporated in the bill (43%.)   The same issues were seen in the ARRA (Stimulus) in which fully a third of the “stimulus” was in the form of long range potential effect tax cuts.

Whatever the rationale, it will be interesting to hear Senator Heller’s justification for voting against even bringing the American Jobs Act to a vote on the Senate Floor.  Does he really believe that his Rush-To-Judgment sop to the mining industry is a suitable substitute for saving jobs in local law enforcement and schools?  Does he trot out the tired focus group talking point generalities about “too much spending we can’t afford?”  Or, will he take the “unfunded mandate” sophistry for a stroll?  What we can be assured of is that he will continue to play the role of the financialist Wall Street Warrior.

—–
*”Clark and Washoe County School Districts Could Increase Class Sizes By Five Students Per Class” Nevada New Bureau, March 24, 2011. “Rural county coffers, fattened by mining boom, evade Sandoval’s grab,” Las Vegas Sun, April 28, 2011. “Washoe County Cuts Due To Budget Cuts,” DailyMotion (video) “Clark County approves budget with more layoffs, job cuts,” LVRJ, May 18, 2011.   See also: “GOP is blind to the American Worker,” The Nevada View.

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Filed under employment, Heller, Mining, Reid, unemployment

>Must Read Recommendation: The Gleaner on Mining Taxes

>If you haven’t already done so, click over to the Gleaner for some excellent summations of the numbers in regard to Nevada mines and mining taxation.  Even the most obtuse (if also sentient) would have to be impressed with the charts.

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Filed under Mining

>Clips and Quotes

>

Excellent articles: Click over to The Gleaner for It’s not the audits, It’s the deductions, (vis a vis Nevada mining taxes) with an amen from NSEFocus’s corner. And, speaking of mining, the controversy over mining corporations’ use of eminent domain in Nevada is explained by Blue Lyon.

Keep Reading:

Rockspot posts a dispatch from the Republican War on Women. The Sin City Siren brings the subject right straight home, noting the effect GOP budget cuts in Washington will have on programs for women in southern Nevada. MoveOn.Org posts its Top Ten Republican Attacks On Women. Bob Cesca points out that according to the GOP life begins at conception and ends at birth. Jodi Jacobson points out that the Republicans have taken their war on women to the global level. Melissa Harris Perry discusses the conservative attacks on womens’ rights and liberties. NVRDC notes the war isn’t limited to women, the GOP’s declared war on unions too.

NyeGateway has a run-down of recent votes by members of the Nevada Congressional delegation. No Surprise Department: Dean Heller has announced his Senate run. [SlashPolitics] Congressman Heller makes it very clear that he believes the federal government has a spending, not a revenue problem — translation: Congressman Heller believes that tax cuts for the ultra-wealthy must be secured and protected, even at the cost of basic services for Nevada citizens. Congressman Heller may find his views now outside the mainstream of American public opinion. [TDL] More polling analysis here from Greg Sargent.

If Ohio voters got a “do-over” current Governor Kaisch would lose by 15 points. [TPM]
Ouch! When Wisconsin activists showed up at the door of state Senator Randy Hopper (R-Fond du Lac) his wife told them he didn’t live there anymore, having moved out to live with his mistress “mostly in Madison.” The probably soon-to-be ex-wife of Senator Hopper will likely sign the recall petition for his removal from office, Hopper’s maid has already done so. [RS]  State Senators Dan Kapanke (R-WI) and Hopper appear to be leading the list of Most Likely To Be Recalled. [DKOS]

The newly elected Republican Governor of Michigan is supporting a bill (which has a high probability of passage) which would allow the Governor to unilaterally “sell off” Michigan local governments: “The governor simply has to declare a financial emergency to invoke these powers – or he can hire a private company to declare financial emergency and take over oversight of the city. That’s right, a private corporation can declare your city in a state of financial emergency and send in its Emergency Manager, fire your elected officials, and reap the benefits of the ensuing state contracts.” [Forbes]

Remember when the Republicans were the Party Of Law And Order?  Not so much anymore, H.R. 1 (The House Republican Axe Job on the Federal Budget) included $133 million slashed from the FBI budget. Senator Reid’s comment on the subject here.

While the Republicans are talking about everything except jobs, Senators Reid and Landrieu have introduced legislation to boost innovation and employment in small businesses. “Nevada Senator Harry Reid and Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu, Chair of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, today discussed the Senate’s third jobs bill: reauthorization of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technical Transfer (STTR) programs.  First passed under President Ronald Reagan in 1983, these initiatives have awarded more than 89,000 research and development grants worth more than $28 billion to help thousands of small businesses across the country expand and hire new workers.”

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Filed under employment, Mining, Republicans