August 4, 2010

Congress Passes Landmark Oil, Gas & Mining Transparency Law


Two weeks ago Congress took bold steps to increase transparency in the gas, oil and mining industries. In countries all of over the world, the people who live in areas that are rich in natural resources are often the least likely to benefit. The new regulations, which were included in the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation passed by the House and Senate, will require companies to publicly disclose payments for the extraction of oil, gas, and minerals on a country-by-country and project basis as part of financial statements that are already required by the SEC.

We might not be able to control how foreign governments compensate local communities, but we can require our accounting system to make publicly available the value of oil, gas and mining contracts. It's a first step toward ensuring that the wealth generated by these industries is more equitably distributed, and that local communities are armed with information that will allow them to demand a fair share.

We've been working with Oxfam America to shed light on this issue and to support their campaign called "Right to Know, Right to Decide." Our short animation, Follow the Money, helped generate tens of thousands of signatures to support reform.

According to Oxfam's president, Raymond C. Offenheiser, "Congress has made an unprecedented commitment to financial transparency and good governance in a sector that not only affects American wallets, but also some of the most vulnerable communities around the world. Secrecy of oil, gas and mining company payments to governments fosters government corruption and violent conflict in resource-rich countries that are home to more than half of the world's poorest people. Instability in these regions poses a long-term threat to national security, foreign policy, and economic interests in the United States."

This is issue is close to our hearts, having witnessed the gross inequities in the Niger Delta, one of the world's leading oil suppliers where the majority of the population lives on just $1 per day.

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