Congress pressures SEC's Schapiro to finalize overdue oil transparency and conflict minerals regulations

By jforres

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Washington, DC – International aid and relief organization Oxfam America praised the move of 58 prominent members of Congress to increase pressure on the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) today, by sending SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro a letter urging the agency to issue final rules for Section 1504 (the “Cardin-Lugar” provision) of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act immediately.

Under Section 1504, companies are required to disclose in their annual SEC reports all payments made to either the United States or a foreign government, at the project-level, for the extraction of oil and minerals. The SEC has delayed the rule-making process for more than a year, missing the statutory deadline of April 16, 2011 set by Congress.

“The financial transparency and regulation promised by the Dodd-Frank Act are more important than ever, and Congress is rightly demanding that the promise of the Cardin-Lugar provision be fulfilled by the SEC,” said Ian Gary, senior policy manager of Oxfam America’s oil, gas and mining program. “New discoveries of oil and minerals, such as in East Africa, are being announced almost every week and quick implementation of this provision will help ensure that these countries build on a foundation of transparency.”

The letter demands the SEC issue final rules on the Cardin-Lugar provision, as well as the conflict minerals provision, Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act.

“These two proposed rules take the issues of secret payments and the use of conflict minerals out of the shadows and into the open, making it possible to fight corruption, increase government accountability and help end the resource curse in developing countries,” highlighted the letter. “The SEC has a history of unmet promises regarding the completion of these rules” and “the issue is too serious to allow further delay.”

“We have been patient but for those living on less than $2 dollars in resource-rich countries, there’s no time left to wait,” continued Gary. “We join these members of Congress to urge Chairman Schapiro to schedule a vote on the final rule now.”

The Congressional letter comes as Senators Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) and Richard Lugar (R-Indiana) weigh in on the battle being fought on the other side of the Atlantic, where oil and mining companies are fighting a draft European Union law similar to Section 1504. To express their appreciation for adopting similar requirements in Europe, the Senators sent a letter to European Commissioners that emphasized the SEC’s mandate to follow the letter of the law.

“As Senators, we assure you that the SEC does not have the authority to remove or change the basic requirements of the law,” said the letter, which also enclosed a copy of the law.

Both letters follow letters from prominent Senators and House members from February and March urging the SEC to “resist” pressure from oil companies, which have been lobbying the Commission to water down the rule.

On May 16, Oxfam America filed a lawsuit against the SEC for unlawfully delaying the issuance of a final rule for Section 1504. The lawsuit was filed in the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts and asks the court to order the SEC to issue a final rule as required by law. “Oxfam America is simply asking the SEC to follow the law,” Gary said.

Notes to Editor:


The letter was signed by Edward J. Markey, Barney Frank, Howard L. Berman, Jim McDermott, Maxine Waters, Henry A. Waxman, Frank R Wolf, Louise M Slaughter, Dennis J Kucinich, James P Moran, Charles B Rangel, Steve Cohen, Andrew Carson, Michael M Honda, William Lacy Clay, Melvin Watt, John A Yarmuth, Fortney Pete Stark, Barbara Lee, George Miller, Gregory W. Meeks, Raul M. Grijalva, Brad Miller, Brad Sherman, John Olver, Eleanor Holmes Norton, John Conyers, Jr., Carolyn B. Maloney, Gwen Moore, Theodore Deutch, Keith Ellison, Jesse Jackson, Jr., Earl Blumenauer, James P. McGovern, John Lewis, Janice D. Schakowsky, Betty McCollum, Bob Filner, Jose E. Serrano, Anna G. Eshoo, Peter Welch, Michael E. Cupuano, Corrine Brown, Jerrold Nadler, Jackie Speier, Edolphus Towns, Frederica S. Wilson, Maurice D. Hinchey, John B. Larson, Carolyn McCarthy, Louis Capps, John Garamendi, Charles A. Gonzalex, Sam Farr, Karen Bass, Henry C. "Hank" Johnson Jr., Mazie K Hirono, Suzanne Bonamici.