Oil and Gas Payment Disclosures on House Chopping Block

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By Andrea Vittorio

House Republicans Jan. 30 will begin efforts to revoke a corporate reporting requirement meant to stem corruption in resource-rich nations.

The rule requires oil, gas and mining companies listed in the U.S. to report to the Securities and Exchange Commission payments they make to the federal and foreign governments, including taxes and royalties.

The House Rules committee is meeting Jan. 30 to discuss a resolution that would undo it with the rarely used Congressional Review Act. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) pointed to the regulation as one of several he wants to “ax” in a Jan. 25 op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.

Legal Battles

The disclosure rule was established by the Dodd-Frank Act and is set to go into effect in 2018 following years of legal battles.

The SEC’s first attempt at a rulemaking was thrown out after the agency was sued by the American Petroleum Institute, a trade association whose members include Chevron Corp. and Exxon Mobil Corp.

The agency’s second attempt at the disclosure rule came after Oxfam sued to expedite the rulemaking. Oxfam, the Natural Resource Governance Institute and other civil society groups are quick to point out that companies such as BP, Royal Dutch Shell and BHP Billiton have already reported more than $150 billion in payments to governments of upwards of 100 countries under similar disclosure regimes in Canada and Europe.

“Despite this, no European company has suffered any disadvantage as a result of disclosures it has made,” the Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency Coalition wrote in a Jan. 26 letter to lawmakers urging them to reject the resolution.

By using the Congressional Review Act, legislators could undo the regulation, but the Dodd-Frank mandate for it would remain, unless Congress nixes that too. The resource disclosures were targeted for repeal in a far-reaching set of proposed financial reforms from last Congress that is expected to be introduced in a substantially similar form in the coming weeks.

CFTC Speakers

Also next week, Commodity Futures Trading Commissioner Sharon Bowen will speak about the CFTC’s regulatory outlook Jan. 30 at the Commodity Markets Council’s State of the Industry conference in Miami. CFTC Chief Economist Sayee Srinivasan will speak on the outlook for agriculture markets at the conference the same day.

On Jan. 31, Mike Gill, chief of staff for CFTC acting Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo, will speak on a panel on the outlook for derivatives regulation. Former CFTC chairman Jim Newsome and former commissioner Jill Sommers will join him on the panel at the CMC conference.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrea Vittorio in Washington at avittorio@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Yin Wilczek at ywilczek@bna.com

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