Senators prodded SEC on oil rule ahead of vote announcement

An SEC spokesman did not credit the letter for prompting the upcoming vote. “We posted the schedule because of the public's interest in the commission's timing,” said SEC spokesman John Nester.

The Cardin-Lugar letter to the inspector general makes the case for the rules, saying they will empower investors to have a “more complete view” of their holdings and help create price stability by bringing more information to global commodities markets.

“And it will empower citizens to hold their governments to account for the decisions made by their governments in the management of valuable oil, gas and mineral resources and revenues,” the letter states.

The rules have been the stuff of an intense, behind-the-scenes battle between transparency advocates like the Publish What You Pay coalition, and oil companies like Exxon, who say the rules will create a competitive disadvantage.

Click here, here and here for more on the battle over the rules, which will require SEC-listed oil, gas and mining companies to file disclosures with the U.S. regulators about payments to foreign governments.

With the long-awaited SEC vote on the final rules announced, both sides are waiting to see what the measure looks like.

The oil industry has been pushing for leeway, such as provisions that would exempt companies from the requirements if such disclosure is prohibited in a nation where they’re operating.

“We hope the SEC works out the anti-competitive aspects of this statute as it finalizes the rule. The unilateral approach to revenue disclosure proposed by the SEC would give foreign oil and natural gas companies access to confidential, proprietary information that they could use against U.S. companies when competing for crucial energy resources around the globe,” said the American Petroleum Institute in a statement Monday.

But advocates of the measure say the industry is seeking to gut the measure. Ian Gary, of Oxfam America, which has sued the SEC in an effort to shake the final rules loose, said the group is pleased that a vote on the regulations has been scheduled.

“We expect the SEC to move rapidly to finish its job and issue a strong final rule for oil and mining company payment disclosures in the public interest,” said Gary, a senior policy manager with Oxfam, noting the rules are more than a year past the deadline required in Dodd-Frank.