Businesses challenge SEC 'extraction rule'

Oct. 11, 2012 at 1:23 PM

WASHINGTON, Oct. 11 (UPI) -- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said Thursday federal regulators grossly underestimated the damage a new disclosure rule could inflict on energy companies.

The chamber said it joined with two energy trade groups, the American Petroleum Institute and the Independent Petroleum Association of America, as well as the National Foreign Trade Council, in challenging the Securities and Exchange Commission on a rule forcing energy companies to disclose payments to foreign governments that exceed $100,000.

"American oil and natural gas companies must compete against foreign, state owned oil companies for access to resources around the world. The SEC's 'extraction rule' will require them to turn over their playbooks for how they bid and compete," said Karen Harbert, president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Chamber Institute for 21st Century Energy.

In a complaint filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the groups said the SEC's rule "by the commission's own reckoning," would cost U.S. companies $1 billion in initial compliance costs and as much as to $400 million for "ongoing compliance costs."

The rule would also do damage through loss of business, which would include excluding U.S. companies from bidding on resources in countries where reporting on government payments is illegal.

According to papers filed in court, the SEC did not thoroughly investigate the implications of the rule, which it is obligated to do by law.

"The commission did not even bother to determine how many countries had laws on the books prohibiting disclosure," the chamber said in a statement.

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