Rights group fights 'resource curse'

Jan. 28, 2013 at 7:41 AM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- Advocacy group EarthRights International said it filed a brief in a U.S. court in Washington backing more transparency in the foreign energy market.

ERI said it filed a brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in support of certain provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last year ruled that oil and natural gas companies must disclose payments to foreign governments as part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform act.

The American Petroleum Institute, a trade group representing more than 500 oil and natural gas companies, said, however, that the decision was a blow to the U.S. energy sector.

ERI said some of the claims made by API were "disingenuous" and "unprecedented," however. API said it considered some provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act to be a violation of free-speech protections in the U.S. Constitution.

"ERI made clear this week that API's First Amendment challenge is unfounded," EarthRights International stated. "ERI also refuted API's baseless claim that certain countries prohibit payment disclosures, and companies would suffer billions of dollars in losses if forced to disclose payments."

Last year, 12 congressional Democrats filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit supporting the SEC's ruling. They said their measure was to combat a so-called resource curse, whereby developing countries may use natural resources to prop up corrupt regimes.

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