As Republicans Demand More Drilling & Mining on Public Land, Grijalva Presses Zinke on Delaying Extractive Industries Transparency

Washington, D.C. – As Republicans in Washington demand increased oil and gas drilling and expanded coal and minerals mining on public lands, Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke today pressing for information on Zinke’s decision to delay the upcoming meeting of the U.S. advisory committee for the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), an international framework on fighting corruption and increasing transparency in the extractive industries sector.

The EITI spells out a common process for governments to publicize coal, oil, gas and other mineral revenues and for companies to disclose payments and donations that increased their access to publicly owned resources. It is intertwined with the Obama-era Securities and Exchange Commission resource extraction rule the Republican Congress killed earlier this year – a rule that, as Reuters reported in March, “required companies such as ExxonMobil to disclose taxes and other fees paid to foreign governments, such as Russia.”

The EITI Advisory Committee meeting scheduled for this week was recently postponed to an undetermined date later this year. The Advisory Committee oversees U.S. implementation of EITI and serves as a forum for stakeholder engagement. The Interior Department (DOI) would only say in late March, after press reports suggesting that DOI would withdraw from the framework, that it continues to support the initiative’s “principles and goals” and that “no decision has been made on applying for validation under the EITI standard.”

This lack of clarity, Grijalva writes to Zinke, suggests that

DOI may be deciding to prioritize the desires of fossil fuel and mining companies to keep their activities secret over the principles of transparency and good governance. Abandoning efforts to become EITI compliant now would erase years of effort for no apparent positive purpose, other than as simply another favor to industry.

Grijalva’s full letter is available at http://bit.ly/2sOtvaI.

Republican demands for more extraction on public lands are squarely at odds with public opinion across the country, where support for “protecting and maintaining national parks, public land and natural places” beats “increase oil/gas development on public lands” by a two-to-one margin.[1]

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