Oxfam Cites SEC Agenda to Support Action to Expedite Resource Payment Rule

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By Yin Wilczek

June 30 — Oxfam America Inc. cited the SEC's latest unified regulatory agenda in support of its lawsuit to expedite rulemaking for resource extraction payment disclosures.

In a June 29 filing, the relief organization asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts—in considering Oxfam's summary judgment motion—to take judicial notice of the agenda's listing of April 2016 as the projected period for a rule proposal.

“The SEC’s latest revision of its projected rulemaking timeline for Section 1504 is directly relevant to Plaintiff’s argument that even if the SEC’s failure to meet a nondiscretionary rulemaking deadline does not trigger the requirement to compel agency action under” the Administrative Procedure Act “per se, the SEC has unreasonably delayed agency action and intends to continue to do so,” Oxfam argues.

Dodd-Frank Mandate 

Under Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the SEC must require the resource extraction industry to disclose payments made to governments to further the commercial development of oil, natural gas and minerals.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia invalidated an SEC rule to implement Section 1504 in July 2013.

In a lawsuit filed in September, Oxfam asked the court to award it summary judgment over the SEC's failure to issue the rule. 

The SEC told the court in March that it may not repropose a resource extraction rule until spring 2016.

Agenda Released in May 

The court held oral argument in the case in early May. Later that month, the SEC published its unified regulatory agenda setting out anticipated timing for commission rulemaking.

The SEC, for its part, does not oppose the court taking judicial notice of its agenda. In a June 30 response, the commission said its only objection was Oxfam's “characterization of what the Agenda reflects.”

Oxfam's assertion that the commission “will not issue a new proposed rule until at least April 2016” is an “incorrect reading” of the agenda, the SEC said. “The Agenda reflects only that ‘the Commission may be unable to take further action with respect to these mandated rulemakings until Spring 2016.'”

To contact the reporter on this story: Yin Wilczek in Washington at ywilczek@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ryan Tuck at rtuck@bna.com

Oxfam's filing is available at http://www.bloomberglaw.com/public/document/Oxfam_America_Inc_v_Securities__Exchange_Commission_Docket_No_114/4.

The SEC's response is available at http://www.bloomberglaw.com/public/document/Oxfam_America_Inc_v_Securities__Exchange_Commission_Docket_No_114/5.