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Advocate: SEC calls Big Oil's bluff

Nov. 13, 2012 at 7:52 AM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- A U.S. energy trade group cried foul over a decision to keep transparency rules in place, though an energy watchdog said regulators had called their bluff.

The Securities and Exchange Commission last week shot down a request from energy groups to suspend disclosure rules outlined in the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010. Trade groups, led by the American Petroleum Institute, claimed the measures put them at a competitive disadvantage.

The SEC said API's argument was "too 'speculative and unsupported by evidence' to warrant a stay."

The measure requires oil and natural gas companies to disclose what they've paid to foreign governments.

Justin Spickard, director of federal relations for API, said the industry supports payment transparency but the measures as they stand could make U.S. energy companies less competitive than state-owned energy companies that "have no interest in transparency."

Earthrights International, an industry watchdog that opposed the suspension on behalf of Oxfam America, described the SEC's decision as a win.

"Essentially, the SEC has called API's bluff and insisted on actual evidence, rather than innuendo," Jonathan Kaufman, a staff lawyer for ERI, said in a statement.

The SEC, in its ruling, said those supporting the suspension weren't able to show they "will suffer an irreparable harm" by keeping existing measures in place.

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