Yesterday, a federal judge ordered the SEC to file with the court an expedited schedule for promulgating final rules requiring disclosure of government payments by resource extraction issuers. The SEC has 30 days to file the expedited schedule, which the court intends to monitor to ensure compliance.

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act required the SEC to adopt final rules, by April 17, 2011, requiring natural resource companies that engage in the commercial development of oil, natural gas or minerals to disclose in their SEC annual report payments to the U.S. government or foreign governments for the purpose of the commercial development of oil, natural gas, or minerals. Required disclosures included:

  • the type and total amount of payments made for each project of the issuer relating to the commercial development of oil, natural gas or minerals; and
  • the type and total amount of the payments made to each government.

    In 2013, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia vacated the original rules, which were remanded to the SEC for revision based on the court’s findings. Two years later, the rules have not yet been reproposed.

    In this latest ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Denise Casper ruled that the SEC had “unlawfully withheld” agency action but said she had to “consider the work that is necessary to publish the final rule and how quickly that work can be accomplished.” The ruling came in litigation brought by transparency advocate Oxfam America, Inc.