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POGO and Allies Urge Senate Not to Undercut Transparency Measures

U.S. Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee Emblem

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Last year, the United States and Mexico signed an agreement to develop oil and natural gas reserves along the international maritime border in the Gulf of Mexico. When it came time for the House to vote this agreement into law this summer, however, the bill included a dangerous anti-transparency measure that would exempt companies drilling in this region from disclosing payment information that would be required by new U.S. regulations.

With the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee set to consider the bill tomorrow, the Project On Government Oversight joined a coalition of transparency advocates urging Committee leadership to pass a clean bill that doesn’t undermine national and global transparency standards.

Specially, the bill in question would exempt companies from complying with the Dodd-Frank Act’s Section 1504, which requires resource extraction companies to publically disclose payments made to the U.S. government and to foreign governments. Section 1504 has positive, wide-reaching implications.

“Transparency promotes accountability and stability and improves the global business climate for economic growth and investment, which is good for American business and our national security,” POGO and nine other groups wrote to Senators Ron Wyden (D-Colo.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Ala.), the Committee Chairman and Ranking Member respectively.

The House bill stands in sharp contradiction to the commitments the United States has already made to transparency when it comes to oil, gas, and mining company payments to the federal government. In addition to Section 1504, the United States has signed onto the international Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. U.S. companies will also be affected by new EU transparency standards and potential transparency regulations coming out of Canada.

Exempting all companies in the Gulf of Mexico from disclosures not only undermines the commitments the United States has made to greater openness, both domestically and abroad, but also puts the region at risk for waste, fraud, and abuse. It’s up to the Senate to do the right thing with this bill and to make transparency a priority.

Emblem Photo of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources

By: Mia Steinle
Investigator, POGO

Mia Steinle, Investigator Mia Steinle is an investigator for the Project On Government Oversight and the civil society coordinator for the U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. Her work focuses on government management of the oil, gas, and mining industries.

Topics: Energy and Natural Resources

Related Content: Congressional Oversight, Oil & Gas Royalty Revenue, Information Access, Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI)

Authors: Mia Steinle

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