Gloves are off!

Ad appearing in Wall Street Journal, February 14, 2012

There’s something deeply troubling about the notion that, with sufficient money for lawyers and lobbyists, corporations can pressure government officials to undo legislation. The bi-partisan Dodd-Frank financial reform laws were drafted, debated and approved in 2010. As I’ve written in a few recent posts, Section 1504 of this legislation requires oil and gas companies to disclose the amount of money they pay to governments in the countries where they operate (including the U.S.). The idea behind this law is simple: transparency can help those who are working for accountability.

The major oil companies have been pressuring the S.E.C. commissioners who will issue the final regulation on Section 1504 to water down its language; they claim that it will be costly to implement, that it will give countries like China a competitive edge (see this document from attorneys at Earth Rights International that responds to the oil industry assertions).

This story wasn’t getting much media attention even though it concerns people around the world (and in the U.S.) Americans can certainly understand the need for transparency — corruption knows no boundaries — and anyone who is concerned about the excessive power of the oil and gas industry in the U.S. has every right to feel outraged.

Oxfam and the Publish What You Pay coalition decided to mount an ad campaign and a series of media events to catch the public’s attention. People need to act on this issue because people power is the only thing that can match corporate money. When the Dodd-Frank legislation was passed, it created momentum for reform. European transparency activists were empowered to push for similar laws. Let’s keep this momentum going.

Read “The fight is on!” for details and links to sign petitions and letters to the S.E.C.

One Response to “Gloves are off!”

  1. […] The law’s intent is to increase transparency, which is a first step towards accountability. As I’ve written before, the American Petroleum Institute and the major U.S. oil companies are doing their best to prevent […]

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