Before the August recess, I offered an amendment to the New Direction for Energy Independence, National Security and Consumer Protection Act (H.R. 3221).  The amendment, which passed the House of Representatives unanimously, calls on the United States to further efforts regarding global energy security and promote democratic development in resource-rich foreign countries.

My amendment requires that the U.S. Secretary of State submit an annual report to Congress on the progress made in promoting transparency, including detailed descriptions of U.S. participation in Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) to deter kleptocracy and promote transparency in the international energy market.  EITI supports improved governance in resource rich countries through the full publication and verification of company payments and government revenues from oil, gas and mining.

In July, I held a hearing in my capacity as Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission) entitled "Energy and Democracy: Oil and Water?", which examined the question of whether the development of democracy is incompatible with the development of a country's energy resources.  I was alarmed to learn that Transparency International ranks 6 of the top 10 suppliers of U.S. crude oil imports as the most corrupt countries and only two of the world's top 10 oil exporters are established democracies -- Norway and Mexico.  Non-transparent governments have a much higher risk of instability, often leading to disruptions of energy supplies.  With the price of gasoline at an all time high already, any disruption in other parts of the world could be a potential disaster for the United States.

Transparency is crucial in decreasing corruption and increasing energy security.  In order to have a comprehensive U.S. energy security policy, we must take into account the impact of relying on non-democratic countries for our energy resources and what that means for our national security interests.  A comprehensive energy plan that moves toward improving transparency, accountability, combating corruption, and promoting democracy and the rule of law in oil-exporting states is essential and will help accomplish the goal of energy security that is so vitally linked to our economic well being and national security interests.

Rep. Alcee Hastings is Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission).