Menendez Condemns Republican Gift to Big Oil

Menendez Condemns Republican Gift to Big Oil

GOP votes to end Wall Street disclosure rule that increased transparency; Menendez: Republicans would rather deregulate big oil companies than monitor if money is falling into the hands of corrupt regimes funding terrorism and oppression around the world

 
WASHINGTON, D.C.– U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Banking Committees, condemned Republicans who voted today to repeal the Resource Extraction Rule, a bipartisan amendment to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform law that requires oil, gas and mining companies to disclose payments they make to foreign governments for access to natural resources. The vote came two days after former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, whose company actively lobbied Congress against Russia sanctions, was confirmed as U.S. Secretary of State.

“I think the American people deserve to know if U.S. corporations are secretly paying off hostile governments like that of Vladimir Putin, thereby lining the pockets of despotic regimes that oppress their own people and commit human rights violations around the world,” said Sen. Menendez.  “Apparently, Republicans would rather deregulate big oil companies than monitor whether money is falling into the hands of corrupt regimes funding terrorism around the world.”

The rule is mandated by Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.  The requirement is based on the Energy Security Through Transparency Act of 2009, legislation cosponsored by Sen. Menendez, and subsequently included in Dodd-Frank as a bipartisan amendment sponsored by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and former Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.). It was intended to improve transparency for U.S. investors and provide citizens in resource-rich countries the tools to hold their leaders accountable.

When Tillerson was still CEO of ExxonMobil, he visited Capitol Hill to lobby against the rule’s creation because, according to a Politico story, “the provision would make it especially difficult for Exxon to do business in Russia.”

“In just the second week of the Trump Administration, Republicans gave Big Oil not one, but two gifts,” Sen. Menendez continued.  “First, they made a former oil executive Secretary of State, despite his past opposition to sanctions intended to stop the dangerous behavior of oil-producing enemies of the U.S., like Russia and Iran.  Then, they rolled back a bipartisan regulation and will now allow Big Oil to drill anywhere they please without disclosing their payments to foreign governments.”

Last year, Sen. Menendez joined a letter to SEC Chair Mary Jo White in support of implementing the Resource Extraction Rule after it was initially delayed by a lawsuit from the American Petroleum Institute, an industry association supported by ExxonMobil.

 

###