Senate bill on US-Mexico drilling lacks Dodd-Frank exemption

The Senate plan does not include language in the House version that would create a limited exemption from Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) disclosure rules.

Republicans and oil industry groups say the exemption is needed because of confidentiality provisions in the U.S.-Mexico deal. Click here for much more on the House plan.

The American Petroleum Institute (API), the oil industry lobbying group that’s battling the SEC rules in court, is pushing for the House language to prevail.

“API sees the need for both the House and Senate to move to approve the agreement quickly, and we believe that these differences can be worked on in conference,” said Erik Milito, a senior official with the industry group. 

“API is hopeful that Congress and the administration will address the problematic 1504 rules, and we certainly would like to see these important 1504 exemptions make it through to a final bill so that U.S. companies can compete on a level playing field,” he said, referring to the numerical section of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial law that required the disclosure rule.

But backers of the SEC requirement oppose the exemption in the House bill and are concerned the bill is part of a wider effort to repeal the SEC rule.

The rule will require SEC-listed oil, natural gas and mining companies to disclose payments to foreign governments related to projects in their countries, such as money for production licenses, royalties and so forth.

It is aimed at undoing the “resource curse,” in which some impoverished countries in Africa and elsewhere are plagued by corruption and conflict alongside their energy and mineral wealth.

Industry groups say it will create costly burdens and hinder competitiveness, placing U.S companies at a disadvantage when competing for contracts against state-owned Russian and Chinese firms.

A spokeswoman for Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the energy committee’s top Republican, said the absence of language on the SEC rule was for procedural reasons.

“Because this is an energy bill and Dodd-Frank falls outside of our committee’s jurisdiction, we didn’t address it in this bill,” spokeswoman Megan Moskowitz said.