SEC Ordered to Speed Up Resource Extraction Rule

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By Rob Tricchinelli

Sept. 2 — A federal court ordered the SEC Sept. 2 to speed up its rulemaking on resource extraction payment disclosures, as required by the Dodd-Frank Act.

The court gave the agency 30 days to file an expedited rulemaking schedule.

Under Section 1504 of Dodd-Frank, the Securities and Exchange Commission must write a rule requiring extractive industries to disclose payments they make to governments as part of their commercial development of oil, natural gas and minerals.

Oxfam

The SEC's first attempt at the rule was struck down, and Oxfam America Inc. sued the SEC in September 2014 to try to hurry along the subsequent rulemaking.

“The SEC’s delay in promulgating the final extraction payments disclosure rule can be considered ‘unlawfully withheld' as the duty to promulgate a final extraction payments disclosure rule remains unfulfilled more than four years past Congress’s deadline,” Judge Denise J. Casper of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts held in granting summary judgment for Oxfam.

The commission's first attempt at a resource extraction rule, adopted in 2012, was struck down by a federal court in July 2013 after a challenge by the American Petroleum Institute and other industry groups, and no rule has been reproposed. 

Timing

Oxfam had asked the court to force the agency to propose the rule within 30 days and adopt it 90 days afterward.

The SEC had planned to repropose the rule by October, court documents show.

An SEC spokesperson told Bloomberg BNA that the agency is reviewing the decision.

Oxfam

“Today’s ruling compels the SEC to move quickly to provide relief to citizens and investors who have been waiting for strong transparency requirements for more than five years,” Ian Gary, a senior policy manager in Oxfam America’s extractive industries program, said in a news release.

“The task before Mary Jo White’s SEC is now crystal clear: a rule must be issued urgently,” he added.

Oxfam is represented by EarthRights International in Washington, Meyer Glitzenstein & Eubanks LLP in Washington and Goulston & Storrs PC in Boston.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rob Tricchinelli in Washington at rtricchinelli@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Phyllis Diamond at mailto:%20pdiamond@bna.com

For the court's order, visit http://www.bloomberglaw.com/public/document/Oxfam_America_Inc_v_Securities__Exchange_Commission_Docket_No_114/6