A coalition of U.S civil society organizations is demanding that Exxon and Chevron have their membership in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Board revoked for actions that “constitute violations of the EITI Code of Conduct and, as such, are grounds for their immediate removal.”
EITI is an organization that sets global standard for the good governance of oil, gas and mineral resources. Its focus in on key governance issues in the extractive sectors. Among those signing the Feb. 7 letter were representatives of the: Project on Government Oversight; Pipeline Safety Coalition; Global Witness; and Publish What You Pay.
The NGOS identify both a political backdrop and specific actions that form the basis of their complaints. In November, as part of his deregulatory agenda, President announced that the U.S. would remove itself from EITI and no longer enforce its standards, declaring that the international guidelines. The two companies, for their part, have refused to disclose foreign and domestic tax payments, as well as material payments to government for extraction rights. The latter rule was mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act’s Section 1504, but later vacated in federal court in a lawsuit partially backed by the two energy giants. The rule was nullified by Congress, using the Congressional Review Act.
“Public lobbying records for that period also indicate that both ExxonMobil and Chevron met with members of Congress regarding H.J. Res. 4 [the CRA enabling bill]. ExxonMobil’s former CEO, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, a former chair of the API, played a well-documented role in opposition to Section 1504 during his tenure at the company,” the letter says.
As for legality claims expressed by the Trump administration, the groups are not buying it.
“The Department of Interior falsely suggested that U.S. laws restrict companies from voluntarily disclosing information, including taxes,” they wrote. “However, a May 2017 Interior Department Inspector General assessment points out that the Internal Revenue Service may disclose tax data with the authorization of the taxpayer. Interior’s November 2017 assertion echoes false insinuations by both ExxonMobil and Chevron that indicate laws prohibit tax payment disclosure. To the contrary, Dallas-based Kosmos Energy has voluntarily disclosed its U.S. tax payments for years, and BHP Billiton, one of the largest mining companies in the world, voluntarily disclosed its tax payments to the U.S. government before it was required to do so by the EU Directives.”