COURT ORDERS SEC TO ISSUE DISCLOSURE RULE ON EXTRACTIVE INDUSTRIES

In a case in which we have been assisting Oxfam, a federal judge in Massachusetts has ordered the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) to issue an important regulation required by the Dodd-Frank law requiring myriad Wall Street reforms.  Dodd-Frank requires “publicly traded oil, gas, and mining companies,” or “resource extraction issuers,” to disclose payments made to foreign governments or the federal government for the commercial development of oil, natural gas, or minerals.  Under the law, these disclosures must be made in annual reports to the SEC, and Congress required the SEC to issue a rule implementing the new disclosure requirements by April 17, 2011.  Although the SEC belatedly issued a regulation in 2012, it was subsequently vacated by another court on various grounds and remanded to the SEC for further proceedings.  Since then, SEC has neither published a proposed rule nor announced a projected timeline for a final rule.  In response to a lawsuit filed by Oxfam seeking to compel the SEC to issue a regulation, the court in Massachusetts has held that the SEC has “unlawfully withheld” agency action in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act, and has ordered the SEC to “file with the Court in 30 days an expedited schedule for promulgating the final rule.”  A copy of the Court’s ruling can be found here.