Oxfam commends Senate effort to open the books in the oil, gas, and mining sector

By Oxfam

Washington, DC – International humanitarian organization Oxfam America commends the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee for including recommendations to the Obama Administration in the Foreign Relations Authorization Act (S. 2971) to reduce corruption and insecurity in the oil, gas, and mining industries by increasing transparency and accountability in the sector. The bill will now be passed to the Senate floor for consideration.

“It is no secret that lack of transparency in the oil, gas, and mining industry often goes hand-in-hand with government corruption and violent conflict. Instability in these regions poses a long-term threat to national security, foreign policy, and economic interests of the United States,” said Raymond C. Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America. “We commend the Senators for encouraging US leadership to promote transparency where it is needed most.”

The “sense of Congress” in the Foreign Relations Authorization Act recommends requiring oil, gas, and mining companies to publicly disclose payments made to foreign governments; bilateral efforts to promote good governance in resource-rich countries through US missions and activities abroad; and encouraging foreign allies to establish similar policies. The legislation also recommends a US commitment to the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, an international voluntary initiative designed to increase transparency of payments by companies to governments.

“More transparency and stability in the oil, gas, and mining sector could help unlock billions of dollars in resource-rich countries that are home to more than half of the world’s poorest people. These policies would foster accountability in nations where secrecy has undermined development, democracy, and human rights for decades,” said Offenheiser.

These recommendations reflect requirements laid out in the proposed Energy Security through Transparency Act (S. 1700), which was introduced in September 2009 by a bipartisan group of Senators led by Senators Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Ben Cardin (D-MD). This bill would require all oil, gas, and mining companies registered with the US Securities and Exchange Commission to disclose payments. This includes European companies, such as Shell and BP, as well as companies in emerging markets like China, India, Brazil, and Russia.

“If passed, the information provided through The Energy Security Through Transparency Act would be a vital tool for citizens to hold their governments accountable for using oil, gas, and mining revenues to address community needs like education, health care, and jobs,” said Offenheiser.

“Passing the Energy Security through Transparency Act would demonstrate US leadership in the effort to weed out corruption in developing countries making way for stability and real solutions to poverty that the oil, gas, and mining industries can support.”

 

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