This week, the civil society members of a U.S. federal advisory committee sent a letter to its government and industry counterparts and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke demanding that meetings of the pro-transparency multi-stakeholder group resume immediately.
The federal advisory committee is working to implement the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in the United States. The initiative requires governments to publicly disclose their revenues from oil, gas, and mining assets, and for companies to make parallel disclosures regarding payments. Under the EITI Standard, civil society, government, and industry representatives make decisions through consensus. U.S. participation in EITI helps ensure that U.S. taxpayers get every dollar due to them from the extraction of public resources. The United States first endorsed EITI in 2004 under Bush and committed to implementing the EITI standard in 2011 under Obama.
The USEITI advisory committee convened 21 meetings from February 2013 until February 2017. An acting government official abruptly ended the last meeting by shutting off the microphones of the group’s civil society members, including civil society chair Danielle Brian, who is also the executive director of the Project On Government Oversight. In May, Secretary Zinke suspended the activities of all Interior Department advisory groups while they underwent review.
The civil society members note in the letter that even though USEITI has not met since February, a new federal advisory group--the Royalty Policy Committee--that works on similar issues has begun meetings.
The letter calls for the Interior Department to resume the meetings of the USEITI in order to have all voices at the table during discussions and to fulfill its obligations to the international body.