An international organization working to bring greater transparency and accountability to industries that extract natural resources accepted the U.S. as a candidate for membership at a meeting of its board today in Oslo, Norway.
The decision by the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) caps a three-year application process spearheaded by the Department of the Interior and a federal advisory committee, which included Project On Government Oversight Executive Director Danielle Brian. The U.S. advisory committee included representatives from civil society, industry, and government.
“EITI is a perfect example of open government principles in action,” said Brian, who chaired the civil society sector. “I'm proud of what U.S. EITI has achieved so far, and I think that the work we've done will ultimately enrich public policy discourse.”
EITI is an international standard that focuses on providing transparency and accountability in the governance of natural resources. It requires companies to disclose how much they pay in royalties for oil, gas, minerals, and other natural resources, and governments to disclose how much they receive. The numbers are then verified and reconciled by independent auditors and published in a report for the public to access.
Royalties from natural resources taken from public lands are among the U.S. government’s largest sources of income. Last year, the Department of the Interior collected more than $14 billion in royalties and other fees from extractive companies.
The scope of EITI in the United States will go beyond the international standard. In addition to information about oil, gas, and coal, the U.S. EITI reports will include information about hardrock minerals (such as gold, silver, and copper) and renewable energy sources (such as geothermal, solar, and wind).
In the next two years, the United States will produce a USEITI Report, the final step in becoming an EITI compliant country.
The EITI board decision comes after a lengthy process that began in September 2011 when President Barack Obama announced his intentions for the United States to sign on. The Department of the Interior oversaw the formation of a multi-stakeholder advisory committee of 23 appointees to develop the U.S. application, and meetings were held across the country to collect input from citizens.