US Must Lead in Revenue Transparency, at Home and Abroad

Issue: EITI
Country: United States
Facebook logoTwitter logo

The U.S. took another big step towards greater revenue transparency last week with the first meeting of the U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (U.S. EITI) Advisory Committee. Staff from the departments of State, Interior and other federal agencies; representatives from oil, gas and mining companies and U.S. civil society organizations from around the country (including RWI) gathered in Washington, D.C., for the event.

EITI brings together governments, private companies and civil society to achieve transparency of payments made by companies to governments in exchange for access to public natural resources. A country must meet certain criteria to become an EITI candidate country, and then complete EITI validation to become an EITI-compliant country.

Outgoing U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar kicked off the meeting with remarks about President Obama's and the Department of the Interior's (DOI) strong commitment to U.S. EITI. Salazar noted his own history reforming U.S. minerals management, a priority from his first day in office, and the need to do more with transparency domestically, in addition to leading the international community on revenue transparency issues.

Salazar particularly stressed the need for greater corporate and U.S. government accountability in the wake of the BP oil spill and past corruption scandals that led to fundamental DOI reforms, and the discontinuation of a royalty-in-kind program Salazar once called a “blemish” on the agency. He also specifically mentioned the need for U.S. EITI to examine hardrock mining royalty issues, stressing DOI’s fiduciary responsibility to the federal government and the American taxpayer in the agency’s oversight of revenue collection from minerals extracted from federal lands.

Samantha Power, a special assistant to the president, delivered remarks highlighting the foreign policy relevance and “intrinsic importance” of EITI, calling it "a critical tool in the fight against corruption, an effective weapon to ensure greater transparency and to empower citizens." Power called the status quo of too much opacity in extractive industries is a “lose-lose” proposition for civil society and companies, in contrast with the ability of revenue transparency to act as an engine for economic growth and governance reforms.

The meeting addressed an ambitious timeline for U.S. application for EITI candidacy, included sustained debate on key start-up issues related to EITI implementation and resulted in the formation of a new subcommittee dedicated to investigating questions around the potential scope of U.S. EITI. The Advisory Committee’s next meeting will be held this spring, at a date yet to be determined.

Background materials and more information are available from DOI here.

Rebecca Morse is RWI Advocacy Officer.

Post new comment