By Ben Geman - 12/31/12 05:19 PM EST
The disclosure rule will force SEC-listed oil, natural-gas and mining companies to reveal payments to governments (including the U.S.) related to projects in their countries, such as money for production licenses, taxes, royalties and other aspects of energy and mineral projects.
It’s aimed at increasing transparency to help undo the “resource curse,” in which some impoverished countries in Africa and elsewhere are plagued by high levels of corruption and conflict alongside their energy and mineral wealth.
But industry groups allege the rule will impose major costs and put U.S. oil-and-gas companies at disadvantage when competing for contracts overseas against state-owned Russian and Chinese energy producers that don’t face the same disclosure rules.
The lawsuit also alleges that the mandated disclosure violates the First Amendment by “compelling U.S. companies to engage in costly speech on controversial matters in order to influence political affairs in other nations,” according to a court filing by the American Petroleum Institute, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other groups battling the SEC rule.
Counsel for Markey, in a Dec. 31 filing announcing the amicus plan, said other current or former House members may add their names to his brief.
Sens. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) are also filing an amicus, or friend-of-the-court, brief in defense of the SEC with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Lugar and Cardin inserted the provision in the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law that required the SEC to write the rule.