USEITI Civil Society Members Urge Government, Industry to Resume Work on Transparency Initiative

USEITI Multi-Stakeholder Group
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20240

Dear Members of the USEITI Multi-Stakeholder Group,

The Civil Society Sector of the U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (USEITI) Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG) writes to seek clarification about your intentions with regard to the Initiative. We again request that you be accountable to the United States’ commitments to the EITI Standard, USEITI Charter, and USEITI Terms of Reference. We stand ready to continue the activities of the USEITI MSG provided that it is reinstated publicly, that the scheduled meetings are reestablished, and that a plan to move forward is implemented.

In May, members of the USEITI federal advisory committee’s multi-stakeholder group (MSG) learned that Interior Secretary Zinke suspended the activities of all Interior advisory committees while they underwent a review that is expected to end in November. The USEITI MSG has not met since February, despite its impending deadline to complete a report by the end of the year and submit it to the EITI International Board in early 2018. Interior has indefinitely delayed two USEITI meetings that were previously scheduled for June and November 2017.

However, the Royalty Policy Committee (RPC)—a federal advisory committee like the USEITI MSG—is holding meetings and covering some of the same ground USEITI did.[1]

The inaugural meeting of the U.S. Department of the Interior's Royalty Policy Committee on October 4 is the latest in a series of indications that the U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (USEITI) exists only on paper.

We previously appealed to the USEITI Secretariat via letter in February, demanding that the US be held to the same standards as other EITI implementing countries. Our letter specifically raised concerns about the February USEITI MSG meeting, which ended when a presiding government representative shut off the microphones of civil society MSG members when they raised concerns about the nullification of the Securities and Exchange Commission's payment disclosure rule and the involvement of a MSG industry member, the American Petroleum Institute (API), in lobbying for its removal. The letter went on to make the case that API should be removed from the MSG for this act of bad faith.[2]

We have yet to receive an official response to that communication.

We did receive a letter from Interior in March, which thanked MSG members for their participation in USEITI and said that, "in December 2017, ONNR (Interior's Office of Natural Resource Revenues) will complete a third online report." However, because the USEITI MSG and its working groups have not met since February, such a report would be inconsistent with EITI's processes and standards. 

Despite nearly five years of commendable effort by many members of the USEITI MSG, and the ongoing work of Interior to maintain a natural resources web portal, the inability of government to revive MSG meetings so that civil society can adequately participate in the process threatens the legitimacy of EITI in the United States and around the world.

Today, we again call on the USEITI MSG and Secretary Zinke to be accountable to its commitments to the EITI Standard, USEITI Charter, and USEITI Terms of Reference. We stand ready to continue the activities of the USEITI MSG provided that Secretary Zinke reinstates it publicly and our 2017 meetings are reestablished.

If these steps are not taken we believe the EITI International Secretariat and Board must take action to address the root causes of this circumstance before the release of the USEITI report in December, which lacks the backing and adequate participation of civil society. We recommend these steps include consideration of early validation to determine how and why the function of the USEITI MSG has ceased and where the process has gone out of compliance with the EITI Standard with particular regard to protecting civil society involvement.

Sincerely,

The Civil Society Sector of the USEITI MSG

CC:

Fredrik Reinfeldt, Chair, EITI International Board
Jonas Moberg, Head, EITI International Secretariat
Sam Bartlett, Technical Director, EITI International Secretariat
Ryan Zinke, U.S. Secretary of the Interior


[1] “Royalty Policy Committee,” U.S. Department of the Interior, www.doi.gov/rpc.

[2] “POGO and Colleagues Object to Actions of Transparency Initiative Stakeholders,” Project On Government Oversight, Feb 9, 2017, www.pogo.org/our-work/letters/2017/pogo-and-colleagues-object-to-actions.html.

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