More bad news for proponents of recently eliminated disclosure requirements for oil, gas, and mining companies. The Department of the Interior has halted U.S. efforts to seek validation by the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), a global anti-corruption effort with a stated mission to bring openness and accountability to the oil, gas, and mining sectors.
Last month, President Donald J. Trump signed legislation to repeal the Securities and Exchange Commission’s controversial extractive payments rule. The Dodd-Frank Act mandate required public companies involved in the extraction of natural resources to annually report payments they, subsidiaries, and entities they control make to governments for the commercial development of oil, natural gas, or minerals.
The rule was repealed using the rarely used Congressional Review Act, passed into law in 1996, which empowers Congress to review and invalidate through an expedited legislative process a broad range of regulatory rules issued by federal agencies by enacting a joint “resolution of disapproval.” To qualify for expedited consideration, a disapproval resolution must be submitted within 60 days after Congress receives the rule.
On Feb. 1, the U.S. House of Representatives passed House Joint Resolution 41 (H.J.Res.41) to vacate the Extraction Payment Disclosure Rule. It then passed the Senate on Feb. 3 by a 52-47 vote.
In a statement, members of the U.S. EITI, wrote that they “are saddened and alarmed” that the Department of the Interior has now also confirmed that it is withdrawing from efforts to be validated under the EITI Standard.
The U.S. had been working towards complying with the standard since 2012, when it established a multi-stakeholder group of civil society, industry and government members to guide the process.
“Many U.S.-based oil and gas companies have refused to voluntarily make tax payment disclosures under the U.S. EITI that would have been required by the now-voided rule,” the statement says.
Nevertheless, the organization touted its past accomplishments and has no plans to abandon its mission.
“We are proud of the work we accomplished as a consensus-based body, and are particularly proud of the U.S. EITI website, which we hope will continue to be a valuable tool for citizens seeking unbiased information about the U.S. extractive industries.”
“Though we are deeply disappointed the U.S. is no longer a candidate for validation under the EITI Standard, we, the civil society members of the U.S. EITI, remain committed to the principles of openness and accountability in the extractive industries, and we will continue to support our allies around the world in their efforts against corruption,” the statement, endorsed by the U.S. EITI civil society members, added.
Among those members and signatories: the Project On Government Oversight, The Lugar Center, the Center for Science in Public Participation, Pipeline Safety Coalition, Publish What You Pay, Oxfam America), United Steelworkers, and the United Mine Workers of America.