With Zero Accountability, Big Oil Wringing Profit from Developing Countries

October 8, 2020 0 By HearthstoneYarns

Thanks to “foot dragging by the Securities and Exchange Commission” combined with “aggressive lobbying and legal challenges by oil industry laggards,” a U.S. law meant to increase transparency around fossil fuel operations in developing countries has been stalled for nearly five years, charges a new report from Oxfam America.

The 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act sought to help citizens “follow the money” by including the groundbreaking provision known as the Cardin-Lugar provision, or Section 1504, that would require all oil, gas, and mining companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges to disclose payments made to governments around the world for each project.

“More than 663 million people in developing countries live in absolute poverty. And they have a right to know: how much do their governments receive for each project and where does the money go?”
—Oxfam America

Such payments include taxes, royalties, fees, production entitlements, bonuses, dividends, and payments for infrastructure improvements.

As Oxfam’s report, Show Us the Money! (pdf), points out, “more than 663 million people in developing countries live in absolute poverty. And they have a right to know: how much do their governments receive for each project and where does the money go?”

But while July 21, 2015 will mark five years since Dodd-Frank was passed, there is still no sign of an official Section 1504 rule from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

And that means “following the money and holding governments accountable is next to impossible for citizens of developing countries,” said Oxfam America president Raymond Offenheiser. In fact, because so many of these transactions remain shrouded in secrecy, they are more likely to be siphoned off as bribes, mismanaged or wasted, or even used to fund violence or conflict, Oxfam says.

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What’s more, fossil fuel industry lobbyists have fought the disclosure law every step of the way, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. The American Petroleum Institute alone has spent at least $360 million lobbying against Section 1504 in the U.S. between 2010 and 2014, Oxfam reports.

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