That rule the Securities and Exchange Commission was supposed to issue for oil, gas and mining companies—the one that requires them to disclose the payments they make to governments for extraction rights? The Commission now says not to expect it until 2016.
In its latest court filing pertaining to a lawsuit brought against it by Oxfam America over delays, the SEC says it will not issue a new rule proposal until spring 2016, pushing a final rule to that summer in all likelihood.
In September 2014 Oxfam America, an international relief and development organization, sued the SEC for “unlawfully withholding” the final rule, required by Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Act. After Oxfam America sued (for the first time, in a separate case) over delays, the Commission issued a rule in August 2012, which was then challenged by the American Petroleum Institute and vacated by the U.S. District Court. Although the rule was sent back to the SEC to be redrafted, it has yet to do so.
Arguing that the Commission has “unlawfully withheld” and “unreasonably delayed” the rulemaking, Oxfam America’s latest lawsuit asks the court to require a revised proposed rule by Aug. 1, 2015 and have the SEC issue a final rule no later than Nov. 1, 2015. In response, the SEC argued that the desired deadline is “unachievable” in a brief filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, offering to report on its progress no later than Oct. 31, 2015, when it expects to consider a revised proposed rule. The latest brief shifts that timetable even further into the future.
The news is not sitting well with Oxfam America. “We're surprised and disappointed that the SEC would push back its timeline yet again, in the midst of litigation where the main issue is delay and refusal to commit to anything but the vaguest timelines for action,” says Ian Gary, senior policy manager, extractive industries for Oxfam America. “The SEC continues to blatantly ignore a deadline that was set by Congress for rules that even the American Petroleum Institute has called for in a timely manner. Investors and industry need regulatory certainty about this rule, especially as similar payment disclosure rules have already become law in the United Kingdom, EU and Norway.”
“We still believe there's no excuse for additional delay on this rule and hope the SEC will act promptly, with or without court intervention,” he added.