Wednesday, December 8, 2010

API Finds it's Not Easy Being Green

I am working on an article about the Dodd-Frank Act and stumbled on a great piece in the LA Times about armies of lobbyists marching into Washington to try and water it down. One paragraph caught my eye and made me laugh: "The American Petroleum Institute met with Securities and Exchange Commission officials Sept. 27 to argue that new rules forcing oil and mining firms to report payments made to foreign governments "raises significant practicality and cost-benefit concerns by vastly increasing the amount of data that must be reported.""
LOL. Is that the best they could come up with? Too much paperwork? Is the API suddenly going green? Doubtful.The reason it is using the weak excuse of 'practicality and cost-benefit concerns' is because it cannot say to the SEC: "Gee whiz, how do you expect us to get drilling or supply contracts in dodgy countries without greasing a few palms?"
The practice of bribery is ingrained in the oil business. Officials in Russia, Middle East, Africa, and Latin America have been supplementing their income with bribes since oil was discovered under their feet. Oil firms have always been creative in disguising the payments, but now - in the US at least - they will have to report them. It won't matter, they can open an office somewhere else and send some poor schmuck out with a brown bag (it used to be schmucks in London, but the UK is cracking down too). As long as there is no paperwork to file.

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