State department backs SEC’s “resource extraction” rule

Dodd-Frank regulation requires energy companies to disclose payments to foreign governments

The State Department has voiced support for a regulation that is unpopular among energy companies.

In August 2012, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) adopted the “resource extraction” rule, which stems from a requirement in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The rule requires companies in the extractive industries to disclose payments they made to foreign governments in order to further their exploration, extraction, processing and export of oil, natural gas or minerals.

Four business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Institute, sued to block the rule in October, saying the rule is too costly and would require disclosing sensitive business information to rival companies. According to Thomson Reuters, the business groups’ argument—that the SEC didn’t properly complete a cost-benefit analysis—has seen success in recent years in legal challenges to SEC regulations.

Unfortunately for the business groups, however, the State Department yesterday announced its support for the SEC rule. In a statement, a State Department spokesman said that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “has called corruption a national security issue, and has called increasing transparency a key tool to combat this challenge.” The spokesman said the rule provides transparency “by ensuring that a sufficiently detailed level of information concerning payments from the extractive industry … will soon be made public and accessible to civil society and investors.”

The case is slated for oral argument in the D.C. Circuit sometime this year.

For more InsideCounsel news about the energy industries, read:

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BP will pay $4.5 billion in Deepwater Horizon oil spill settlement

Ashley Post

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