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Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

17 CFR Parts 240 and 249

[Release No. 34-67717; File No. S7-42-10]

RIN 3235-AK85

Disclosure of Payments by Resource Extraction Issuers

AGENCY: Securities and Exchange Commission.
ACTION: Final rule.
SUMMARY: We are adopting new rules and an amendment to a new form pursuant to Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act relating to disclosure of payments by resource extraction issuers. Section 1504 added Section 13(q) to the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, which requires the Commission to issue rules requiring resource extraction issuers to include in an annual report information relating to any payment made by the issuer, a subsidiary of the issuer, or an entity under the control of the issuer, to a foreign government or the Federal Government for the purpose of the commercial development of oil, natural gas, or minerals. Section 13(q) requires a resource extraction issuer to provide information about the type and total amount of such payments made for each project related to the commercial development of oil, natural gas, or minerals, and the type and total amount of payments made to each government. In addition, Section 13(q) requires a resource extraction issuer to provide information regarding those payments in an interactive data format.
DATES: Effective date:November 13, 2012.

Compliance date:A resource extraction issuer must comply with the new rules and form for fiscal years ending after September 30, 2013. For the first report filed for fiscal years ending after September 30, 2013, a resource extraction issuer may provide a partial year report if the issuer's fiscal year began before September 30, 2013. The issuer will be required to provide a report for the period beginning October 1, 2013 through the end of its fiscal year. For any fiscal year beginning on or after September 30, 2013, a resource extraction issuer will be required to file a report disclosing payments for the full fiscal year.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Tamara Brightwell, Senior Special Counsel, Division of Corporation Finance, Elliot Staffin, Special Counsel, Office of International Corporate Finance, Division of Corporation Finance, or Eduardo Aleman, Special Counsel, Office of Rulemaking, Division of Corporation Finance, at (202) 551-3290, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, 100 F Street NE., Washington, DC 20549-4553.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

We are adopting new Rule 13q-11 and an amendment to new Form SD2 under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”).3

117 CFR 240.13q-1.

217 CFR 249.448.

315 U.S.C. 78aet seq.

Table of Contents I. Background II. Final Rules Implementing Section 13(q) A. Summary of the Final Rules B. Definition of “Resource Extraction Issuer” and Application of the Disclosure Requirements 1. Proposed Rules 2. Comments on the Proposed Rules 3. Final Rules C. Definition of “Commercial Development of Oil, Natural Gas, or Minerals” 1. Proposed Rules 2. Comments on the Proposed Rules 3. Final Rules D. Definition of “Payment” 1. Types of Payments 2. The “Not De Minimis” Requirement 3. The Requirement To Provide Disclosure for “Each Project” 4. Payments by “a Subsidiary * * * or an Entity Under the Control of * * *” E. Definition of “foreign government” 1. Proposed Rules 2. Comments on the Proposed Rules 3. Final Rules F. Disclosure Required and Form of Disclosure 1. Annual Report Requirement 2. Exhibits and Interactive Data Format Requirements 3. Treatment for Purposes of Securities Act and Exchange Act G. Effective Date 1. Proposed Rules 2. Comments on the Proposed Rules 3. Final Rules III. Economic Analysis A. Introduction B. Benefits and Costs Resulting From the Mandatory Reporting Requirement 1. Benefits 2. Costs C. Benefits and Costs Resulting From Commission's Exercise of Discretion 1. Definition of “Commercial Development of Oil, Natural Gas, or Minerals” 2. Types of Payments 3. Definition of “Not De Minimis” 4. Definition of “Project” 5. Annual Report Requirement 6. Exhibit and Interactive Data Requirement D. Quantified Assessment of Overall Economic Effects IV. Paperwork Reduction Act A. Background B. Summary of the Comment Letters C. Revisions to PRA Reporting and Cost Burden Estimates D. Revised PRA Estimate V. Final Regulatory Flexibility Act Analysis A. Reasons for, and Objectives of, the Final Rules B. Significant Issues Raised by Public Comments C. Small Entities Subject to the Final Rules D. Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance Requirements E. Agency Action To Minimize Effect on Small Entities VI. Statutory Authority and Text of Final Rule and Form Amendments I. Background

On December 15, 2010, we proposed rule and form amendments4 under the Exchange Act to implement Section 13(q) of the Exchange Act, which was added by Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“the Act”).5 Section 13(q) requires the Commission to “issue final rules that require each resource extraction issuer to include in an annual report of the resource extraction issuer information relating to any payment made by the resource extraction issuer, a subsidiary of the resource extraction issuer, or an entity under the control of the resource extraction issuer to a foreign government or the Federal Government for the purpose of the commercial development of oil, natural gas, or minerals, including—(i) the type and total amount of such payments made for each project of the resource extraction issuer relating to the commercial development of oil, natural gas, or minerals, and (ii) the type and total amount of such payments made to each government.”6

4 SeeExchange Act Release No. 63549 (December 15, 2010), 75 FR 80978 (December 23, 2010),available at http://www.sec.gov/rules/proposed/2010/34-63549.pdf(“Proposing Release”).

5Public Law 111-203 (July 21, 2010).

615 U.S.C. 78m(q)(2)(A). As discussed further below, Section 13(q) also specifies that the Commission's rules must require certain information to be provided in interactive data format.

Based on the legislative history, we understand that Congress enacted Section 1504 to increase the transparency of payments made by oil, natural gas, and mining companies to governments for the purpose of the commercial development of their oil, natural gas, and minerals. A primary goal of such transparency is to help empower citizens of those resource-rich countries to hold their governments accountable for the wealth generated by those resources.7 To accomplish this goal, Congress created a disclosure regime under the Exchange Act that would support the commitment of the U.S. Federal Government to international transparency promotion efforts relating to the commercial development of oil, natural gas, or minerals.8

7 See, e.g.,statement by Senator Richard Lugar, one of the sponsors of Section 1504 (“Adoption of the Cardin-Lugar amendment would bring a major step in favor of increased transparency at home and abroad * * *. More importantly, it would help 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 essential issue at stake is a citizen's right to hold its government to account. Americans would not tolerate the Congress denying them access to revenues our Treasury collects. We cannot force foreign governments to treat their citizens as we would hope, but this amendment would make it much more difficult to hide the truth.”), 156 Cong. Rec. S3816 (May 17, 2010).

8 See15 U.S.C. 78m(q)(2)(E).

Section 13(q) provides the following definitions and descriptions of several key terms:

• “resource extraction issuer” means an issuer that is required to file an annual report with the Commission and engages in the commercial development of oil, natural gas, or minerals;9

915 U.S.C. 78m(q)(1)(D).

• “commercial development of oil, natural gas, or minerals” includes exploration, extraction, processing, export, and other significant actions relating to oil, natural gas, or minerals, or the acquisition of a license for any such activity, as determined by the Commission;10

1015 U.S.C. 78m(q)(1)(A).

• “foreign government” means a foreign government, a department, agency or instrumentality of a foreign government, or a company owned by a foreign government, as determined by the Commission;11 and

1115 U.S.C. 78m(q)(1)(B).

• “payment” means a payment that:

• Is made to further the commercial development of oil, natural gas, or minerals;

• Is not de minimis; and

• Includes taxes, royalties, fees (including license fees), production entitlements, bonuses, and other material benefits, that the Commission, consistent with the guidelines of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (to the extent practicable), determines are part of the commonly recognized revenue stream for the commercial development of oil, natural gas, or minerals.12

1215 U.S.C. 78m(q)(1)(C).

Section 13(q) specifies that “[t]o the extent practicable, the rules issued under [the section] shall support the commitment of the Federal Government to international transparency promotion efforts relating to the commercial development of oil, natural gas, or minerals.”13 As noted above, the statute explicitly refers to one international initiative, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (“EITI”),14 in the definition of “payment.” Although a separate provision in Section 13(q) regarding international transparencyefforts does not explicitly mention the EITI, the legislative history indicates that the EITI was considered in connection with the new statutory provision.15 The United States is one of several countries that supports the EITI.16

1315 U.S.C. 78m(q)(2)(E).

14The EITI is a voluntary coalition of oil, natural gas, and mining companies, foreign governments, investor groups, and other international organizations dedicated to fostering and improving transparency and accountability in countries rich in oil, natural gas, and minerals through the publication and verification of company payments and government revenues from oil, natural gas, and mining.See Implementing the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative(2008) (“Implementing the EITI”),available at http://eiti.org/document/implementingtheeiti. According to the EITI, “[b]y encouraging greater transparency and accountability in countries dependent on the revenues from oil, gas and mining, the potential negative impacts of mismanaged revenues can be mitigated, and these revenues can instead become an important engine for long-term economic growth that contributes to sustainable development and poverty reduction.”EITI Source Book(2005), at 4,available at http://eiti.org/files/document/sourcebookmarch05.pdf. Announced by former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in September 2002, the EITI received the endorsement of the World Bank Group in 2003.SeeHistory of EITI,http://www.eiti.org/eiti/history(last visited August 15, 2012).

Currently 14 countries—Azerbaijan, Central African Republic, Ghana, Kyrgyz Republic, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Mongolia, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Timor Leste, and Yemen—have achieved “EITI compliant” status by completing a validation process in which company payments are matched with government revenues by an independent auditor.See http://eiti.org/countries/compliant(last visited August 15, 2012). Some 22 other countries are EITI candidates in the process of complying with EITI standards, although one of the countries, Madagascar, recently had its EITI candidate status suspended.See http://eiti.org/candidatecountries(last visited August 15, 2012). Several other countries have indicated their intent to implement the EITI.See http://eiti.org/othercountries. Implementation of the EITI varies across countries—the EITI provides criteria and a framework for implementation, but allows countries to make key decisions on the scope of its program (e.g.,degree of aggregation of data, inclusion of subnational or social or community payments).See Implementing the EITI,at 23-24.

On September 20, 2011, President Obama declared that the United States will join the global initiative and released a National Action Plan stating that the Administration is committing to implement the EITI.See http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/09/20/opening-remarks-president-obama-open-government-partnershipandhttp://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/us_national_action_plan_final_2.pdf. The U.S. Department of the Interior (“DOI”) is responsible for implementing the U.S. EITI.See“White House Announces Secretary Ken Salazar as Senior Official Responsible for Oversight of Implementation of Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative,” White House Statements and Releases (October 25, 2011),available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/10/25/white-house-announces-secretary-ken-salazar-administrations-senior-offic. After soliciting comment on and evaluating comments regarding the formation of the multi-stakeholder group for the U.S. EITI, the DOI announced that the assessment phase of the U.S. EITI implementation was complete, and the next phase of the U.S. EITI implementation will involve establishing the multi-stakeholder group.See“U.S. Department of the Interior Announces Results of USEITI Implementation Assessment,” U.S. Department of the Interior News Release (July 10, 2012),available at http://www.doi.gov/EITI/index.cfm.See alsoletter from Batirente Inc. and NEI Investments (February 10, 2012) (“Batirente and NEI Investments”) (submitting a copy of a statement by 17 Canadian investment institutions calling on the Canadian government to become an EITI implementing country). One commentator indicated that the final rules should be “aligned and coordinated” with the process being developed by the DOI to fulfill the United States' commitment to implementing the EITI.Seeletter from NMA 3.

15 See, e.g.,statement by Senator Lugar (“This domestic action will complement multilateral transparency efforts such as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative—the EITI—under which some countries are beginning to require all extractive companies operating in their territories to publicly report their payments.”), 111Cong. Rec.S3816 (daily ed. May 17, 2010). Other examples of international transparency efforts include the amendments of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange listing rules for mineral companies and the London Stock Exchange AIM rules for extractive companies.SeeAmendments to the GEM Listing Rules of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, Chapter 18A.05(6)(c) (effective June 3, 2010),available at http://www.hkex.com.hk/eng/rulesreg/listrules/gemrulesup/Documents/gem34_miner.pdf(requiring a mineral company to include in its listing document, if relevant and material to the company's business operations, information regarding its compliance with host country laws, regulations and permits, and payments made to host country governments in respect of tax, royalties, and other significant payments on a country by country basis) and Note for Mining and Oil & Gas Companies—June 2009,available at http://www.londonstockexchange.com/companies-and-advisors/aim/advisers/rules/guidance-note.pdf(requiring disclosure in the initial listing of “any payments aggregating over £10,000 made to any government or regulatory authority or similar body made by the applicant or on behalf of it, in regards to the acquisition of, or maintenance of its assets.”).

16 Seethe list of EITI supporting countries,available at http://eiti.org/supporters/countries(last visited August 15, 2012).

The Commission's rules under Section 13(q) must require a resource extraction issuer to submit the payment information included in an annual report in an interactive data format17 using an interactive data standard established by the Commission.18 Section 13(q) defines “interactive data format” to mean an electronic data format in which pieces of information are identified using an interactive data standard.19 The section also defines “interactive data standard” as a standardized list of electronic tags that mark information included in the annual report of a resource extraction issuer.20 The rules issued pursuant to Section 13(q)21 must include electronic tags that identify:

1715 U.S.C. 78m(q)(2)(C).

1815 U.S.C. 78m(q)(2)(D).

1915 U.S.C. 78m(q)(1)(E).

2015 U.S.C. 78m(q)(1)(F).

2115 U.S.C. 78m(q)(2)(D)(i).

• The total amounts of the payments, by category;

• The currency used to make the payments;

• The financial period in which the payments were made;

• The business segment of the resource extraction issuer that made the payments;

• The government that received the payments and the country in which the government is located; and

• The project of the resource extraction issuer to which the payments relate.22 Section 13(q) further authorizes the Commission to require electronic tags for other information that it determines is necessary or appropriate in the public interest or for the protection of investors.23

2215 U.S.C. 78m(q)(2)(D)(ii).

2315 U.S.C. 78m(q)(2)(D)(ii).

Section 13(q) provides that the final rules “shall take effect on the date on which the resource extraction issuer is required to submit an annual report relating to the fiscal year * * * that ends not earlier than 1 year after the date on which the Commission issues final rules[.]”24

2415 U.S.C. 78m(q)(2)(F).

Finally, Section 13(q) requires, to the extent practicable, the Commission to make publicly available online a compilation of the information required to be submitted by resource extraction issuers under the new rules.25 The statute does not define the term compilation.

2515 U.S.C. 78m(q)(3).

The Commission received over 150 unique comment letters on the proposal as well as over 149,000 form letters (including a petition with 143,000 signatures).26 These letters came from corporations in the resource extraction industries, industry and professional associations, United States and foreign government officials, non-governmental organizations, law firms, pension and other investment funds, academics, investors, a labor union and other employee groups, and other interested parties. Commentators generally supported transparency efforts and offered numerous suggestions for revising certain aspects of the proposal in the final rules.

26The letters, including the form letters designated as Type A, Type B, and Type C, are available athttp://www.sec.gov/comments/s7-42-10/s74210.shtml.In addition, to facilitate public input on the Act, the Commission provided a series of email links, organized by topic, on its Web site athttp://www.sec.gov/spotlight/regreformcomments.shtml.The public comments we received on Section 1504 of the Act, which were submitted prior to the Proposing Release, are available on our Web site athttp://www.sec.gov/comments/df-title-xv/specialized-disclosures/specialized-disclosures.shtml.Many commentators provided comments both prior to, and in response to, the proposal. Generally, our references to comment letters refer to the comments submitted in response to the proposal. When we refer to a comment letter submitted prior to the proposal, however, we make that clear in the citation.

We have reviewed and considered all of the comments that we received and the rules we are adopting reflect changes made in response to many of the comments. Generally, as adopted, the final rules track the language in the statute, and except for where the language or approach of Section 13(q) clearly deviates from the EITI, the final rules are consistent with the EITI.27 In instances where the language or approach of Section 13(q) clearly deviates from the EITI, the final rules track the statute rather than the EITI because in those instances we believe Congress intended the final rules to go beyond what is required by the EITI. We believe this approach is consistent with Section 13(q) and furthers the statutory goal to support international transparency promotion efforts relating to the commercial development of oil, natural gas, or minerals because the EITI is referenced in Section 13(q) and is well-recognized for promoting such transparency.28

27A country volunteers to become an EITI member. To become an EITI member country, among other things, a country must establish a multi-stakeholder group, including representatives of civil society, industry, and government, to oversee implementation of the EITI. The stakeholder group for a particular country agrees to the terms of that country's EITI plan, including the requirements for what information will be provided by the governments and by the companies operating in that country. Generally, as we understand it, under the EITI, companies and the host country's government submit payment information confidentially to an independent administrator selected by the country's multi-stakeholder group, which is frequently an independent auditor. The auditor reconciles the information provided to it by the government and by the companies and produces a report. The information provided in the reports varies widely among countries. A country must complete an EITI validation process to become a compliant member. The EITI Source Book and Implementing the EITI provide guidance regarding what should be included in a country's EITI plan, and we have looked to those materials and to the reports made by EITI member countries for guidance as to EITI requirements.Seethe EITI's Web site athttp://eiti.org.

28 SeeExchange Act Sections 13(q)(2)(C)(ii) and 13(q)(2)(E) [15 U.S.C. 78m(q)(2)(C)(ii) and 78m(q)(2)(E)].

II. Final Rules Implementing Section 13(q) A. Summary of the Final Rules

Consistent with the proposal, we are adopting final rules that define the term “resource extraction issuer” as defined in Section 13(q). As proposed, the final rules will apply to all U.S. companies and foreign companies that are engaged in the commercial development of oil, natural gas, or minerals, and that are required to file annual reports with the Commission, regardless of the size of the company or the extent of business operations constituting commercial development of oil, natural gas, or minerals. Consistent with the proposal, the final rules will apply to an issuer, whether government-owned or not, thatmeets the definition of resource extraction issuer.

Consistent with the proposal and in light of the structure, language, and purpose of the statute, the final rules do not provide any exemptions from the disclosure requirements. As such, the final rules do not include an exemption for certain categories of issuers or for resource extraction issuers subject to similar reporting requirements under home country laws, listing rules, or an EITI program. The final rules also do not provide an exemption for situations in which foreign law may prohibit the required disclosure. In addition, the final rules do not provide an exemption for instances when an issuer has a confidentiality provision in an existing or future contract or for commercially sensitive information.

Consistent with Section 13(q) and the proposal, the final rules define “commercial development of oil, natural gas, or minerals” to include the activities of exploration, extraction, processing, and export, or the acquisition of a license for any such activity.

Consistent with Section 13(q) and the proposal, the final rules define “payment” to mean a payment that is made to further the commercial development of oil, natural gas, or minerals, is “not de minimis,” and includes taxes, royalties, fees (including license fees), production entitlements, and bonuses. After considering the comments, under the final rules and in accordance with Section 13(q)(1)(C)(ii), we also are including dividends and payments for infrastructure improvements in the list of payments required to be disclosed. The final rules include instructions to clarify the types of taxes, fees, bonuses, and dividends that are covered. In addition, after considering the comments, we have determined to define the term “not de minimis.” Unlike the proposed rules, which left the term “not de minimis” undefined, the final rules define “not de minimis” to mean any payment, whether a single payment or a series of related payments, that equals or exceeds $100,000 during the most recent fiscal year.

Consistent with Section 13(q) and the proposal, after considering the comments, we have decided to leave the term “project” undefined.

Consistent with the proposal, the final rules require a resource extraction issuer to disclose payments made by the issuer, a subsidiary of the issuer, or an entity under the control of the issuer to a foreign government or the U.S. Federal Government for the purpose of commercial development of oil, natural gas, or minerals. A resource extraction issuer will be required to disclose payments made directly, or by any subsidiary, or entity under the control of the resource extraction issuer. Therefore, a resource extraction issuer must disclose payments made by a subsidiary or entity under the control of the resource extraction issuer where the subsidiary or entity is consolidated in the resource extraction issuer's financial statements included in its Exchange Act reports, as well as payments by other entities it controls as determined in accordance with Rule 12b-2. A resource extraction issuer may be required to provide the disclosure for entities in which it provides proportionately consolidated information. A resource extraction issuer will be required to determine whether it has control of an entity for purposes of the final rules based on a consideration of all relevant facts and circumstances.29

29 SeeExchange Act Rule 12b-2 for the definition of “control.”See alsonote 315.

We are adopting the definition of “foreign government” consistent with the definition in Section 13(q), as proposed. A “foreign government” includes a foreign national government as well as a foreign subnational government, such as the government of a state, province, county, district, municipality, or territory under a foreign national government. As proposed, the final rules clarify that “Federal Government” means the United States Federal Government. The final rules do not require disclosure of payments made to subnational governments in the United States. Consistent with the proposal, the final rules clarify that a company owned by a foreign government is a company that is at least majority-owned by a foreign government.

After considering the comments, the final rules we are adopting require resource extraction issuers to provide the required disclosure about payments in a new annual report, rather than in the issuer's existing Exchange Act annual report as proposed. We are adopting amendments to new Form SD to require the disclosure.30 Similar to the proposal, the Form SD will require issuers to include a brief statement in the body of the form in an item entitled, “Disclosure of Payments By Resource Extraction Issuers,” directing users to detailed payment information provided in an exhibit to the form. As adopted, in response to comments, the final rules require resource extraction issuers to file Form SD on EDGAR no later than 150 days after the end of the issuer's most recent fiscal year. The final rules will require resource extraction issuers to present the payment information in one exhibit to new Form SD rather than in two exhibits, as was proposed. The required exhibit must provide the information using the XBRL interactive data standard.31 Because the XBRL exhibit will be automatically rendered into a readable form available on EDGAR, we are not requiring a separate HTML or ASCII exhibit in addition to the XBRL exhibit. Under the final rules, and as required by the statute, a resource extraction issuer must submit the payment information using electronic tags that identify, for any payments made by a resource extraction issuer to a foreign government or the U.S. Federal Government:

30In another release we are issuing today, we are adopting rules to implement the requirements of Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act and requiring issuers subject to those requirements to file the disclosure on Form SD.SeeConflict Minerals, Release 34-67716 (August 22, 2012) (“Conflict Minerals Adopting Release”). Because of the order of our actions, we are adopting Form SD in that release and we are amending the form in this release, but we intend for the form to be used equally for these two separate disclosure requirements and potentially others that would benefit from placement in a specialized disclosure form.

31As proposed, an issuer would have been required to submit two exhibits—one in HTML or ASCII and the other in XBRL. As discussed below, we have decided to require only one exhibit for technical reasons and to reduce the compliance burden of the final rules.

• The total amounts of the payments, by category;

• The currency used to make the payments;

• The financial period in which the payments were made;

• The business segment of the resource extraction issuer that made the payments;

• The government that received the payments, and the country in which the government is located; and

• The project of the resource extraction issuer to which the payments relate.32

32 SeeItem 2.01(a) of Form SD (17 CFR 249.448).

In addition, a resource extraction issuer must provide the type and total amount of payments made for each project and the type and total amount of payments made to each government in interactive data format. Unlike the proposal, in response to comments we received, the final rules require resource extraction issuers to file rather than furnish the payment information.

Under the final rules, a resource extraction issuer will be required to comply with the new rules and form for fiscal years ending after September 30, 2013. For the first report filed for fiscal years ending after September 30, 2013, a resource extraction issuer may providea partial year report if the issuer's fiscal year began before September 30, 2013. The issuer will be required to provide a report for the period beginning October 1, 2013 through the end of its fiscal year. For any fiscal year beginning on or after September 30, 2013, a resource extraction issuer will be required to file a report disclosing payments for the full fiscal year.

B. Definition of “Resource Extraction Issuer” and Application of the Disclosure Requirements 1. Proposed Rules

In accord with Section 13(q), the proposed rules would have applied to issuers meeting the definition of “resource extraction issuer” and would have defined the term to mean an issuer that is required to file an annual report with the Commission and that engages in the commercial development of oil, natural gas, or minerals. Consistent with Section 13(q), the proposed rules would not have provided any exemptions from the disclosure requirements for resource extraction issuers. The Proposing Release further clarified that the proposed rules would apply to companies that fall within the definition of resource extraction issuer whether or not they are owned or controlled by governments.

2. Comments on the Proposed Rules

We received a variety of comments regarding the proposed rules and the application of the disclosure requirements. Numerous commentators supported the Commission's proposed definition and application of the disclosure requirements, including that the rules should not provide any exemptions from the disclosure requirements.33 Noting an absence of statutory language regarding exemptions, several commentators stated that the legislative intent underlying Section 1504 was to provide the broadest possible coverage of extractive companies so as to create a level playing field.34

33 Seeletters from Association of Forest Communities in Guatemala (March 8, 2012) (“Guatemalan Forest Communities”), Batirente (February 28, 2011), BC Investment Management Corporation (March 2, 2011) (“bcIMC”), Bon Secours Health System (March 1, 2011) (“Bon Secours”), California State Teachers' Retirement System (March 1, 2011) (“CalSTRS”), Calvert Investments (March 1, 2011) (“Calvert”), Catholic Relief Services and Committee on International Justice and Peace (February 9, 2011) (“CRS”), Derecho Ambiente y Recursos Naturales DAR (March 23, 2012) (“Derecho”), EarthRights International (December 2, 2010) (pre-proposing letter) (“ERI pre-proposal”), EarthRights International (January 26, 2011), (September 20, 2011), (February 3, 2012), (February 7, 2012) (respectively, “ERI 1,” “ERI 2,” “ERI 3,” and “ERI 4”), Earthworks (March 2, 2011), Extractive Industries Working Group (March 2, 2011) (“EIWG”), Global Financial Integrity (March 1, 2011) (“Global Financial 2”), Global Witness (February 25, 2011) (“Global Witness 1”), Global Witness (February 24, 2012) (with attachments) (“Global Witness 2”), Global Witness (February 24, 2012) (“Global Witness 3”), Greenpeace (March 8, 2012), Grupo FARO (February 13, 2012), Philippe Le Billon (March 2, 2012) (“Le Billon”), Libyan Transparency Association (February 22, 2012) (“Libyan Transparency”), National Civil Society Coalition on Mineral Resource Governance of Senegal (February 14, 2012) (“National Coalition of Senegal”), Newground Social Investment (March 1, 2011) (“Newground”), Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (July 8, 2011) (“NUPENG”), ONE (March 2, 2011), ONE Petition (February 23, 2012), Oxfam America (February 21, 2011) (“Oxfam 1”), Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (June 27, 2011) (“PENGASSAN”), PGGM Investments (March 1, 2011) (“PGGM”), PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (March 2, 2011) (“PWC”), Publish What You Pay U.S. (November 22, 2010) (pre-proposing letter) (“PWYP pre-proposal”), Publish What You Pay U.S. (February 25, 2011) (“PWYP 1”), Railpen Investments (February 25, 2011), Representative Barney Frank, Representative Jose Serrano, Representative Norman Dicks, Representative Henry Waxman, Representative Maxine Waters, Representative Donald Payne, Representative Nita Lowey, Representative Betty McCollum, Representative Barbara Lee, Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr., Representative Alcee Hastings, Representative Gregory Meeks, Representative Rosa DeLauro, and Representative Marcy Kaptur (February 15, 2012) (“Rep. Franket al.”), Revenue Watch Institute (February 17, 2011) (“RWI 1”), Peter Sanborn (March 12, 2011) (“Sanborn”), Senator Benjamin Cardin, Senator John Kerry, Senator Patrick Leahy, Senator Charles Schumer, and Representative Barney Frank (March 1, 2011) (“Sen. Cardinet al.1”), Senator Benjamin Cardin, Senator John Kerry, Senator Patrick Leahy, Senator Carl Levin, and Senator Charles Schumer (January 31, 2012) (“Sen. Cardinet al.2”), Senator Carl Levin (February 1, 2011) (“Sen. Levin 1”), Social Investment Forum (March 2, 2011) (“SIF”), George Soros (February 23, 2011) and (February 21, 2012) (“Soros 1” and “Soros 2”, respectively), Syena Capital Management LLC (February 17, 2011) (“Syena”), Ta'ang Students and Youth Organization (“TSYO”), TIAA-CREF (March 2, 2011) (“TIAA”), U.S. Agency for International Development (July 15, 2011) (“USAID”), United Steelworkers (March 29, 2011) (“USW”), WACAM (February 2, 2012), and World Resources Institute (March 1, 2011) (“WRI”), and letters designated as Type A and Type B. Other commentators generally voiced their support for strong rules under Section 1504.Seeletters from Cambodians for Resource Revenue Transparency (February 7, 2012) (“Cambodians”), Conflict Risk Network (February 7, 2012), Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (February 9, 2012) (“Gates Foundation”), Global Witness 2, Barbara and Richard Hause (February 24, 2012), Network for the Fight Against Hunger in Cameroon (February 20, 2012) (“RELUFA 3”), Oxfam America (March 7, 2012) (“Oxfam 3”), Gradye Parsons (February 15, 2012), Representative Raul M. Grijalva (November 15, 2011), Reverend Jed Koball (February 10, 2012), and letters designated as Type C.

34 See, e.g.,letters from Calvert, Global Witness 1, Oxfam 1, PWYP 1, Sen. Cardinet al.1, Sen. Levin 1, and WRI.

Most commentators that addressed the issue supported including issuers that are owned or controlled by governments within the definition of resource extraction issuer, as proposed.35 Commentators favored such inclusion because it would be consistent with the intent of the statute to hold all resource extraction issuers accountable for payments to governments,36 would adhere to EITI's universality principle that payment disclosure in a given country should involve all extractive industry companies operating in that country,37 and would avoid anti-competitive effects because many government-owned companies are the largest in the industry.38 Another commentator stated that, while it did not believe government-owned entities should be exempt from the payment disclosure rules, it opposed requiring a government-owned entity to disclose payments made to the government that controls it. According to that commentator, such payments are not “made to further commercial development,” but rather are “distributions to the entity's controlling shareholder (or to itself), and requiring them to be disclosed is inappropriate as a matter of comity.”39 Another commentator sought an exemption for payments made by a foreign government-owned company to a subsidiary or entity controlled by it.40

35 Seeletters from American Petroleum Institute (January 28, 2011) (“API 1”), Chevron Corporation (January 28, 2011) (“Chevron”), Exxon Mobil (January 31, 2011) (“ExxonMobil 1”), Le Billon, PWYP 1, and Royal Dutch Shell plc (January 28, 2011) (“RDS 1”).

36 Seeletter from PWYP 1.

37 Seeletters from API 1 and ExxonMobil 1.

38 Seeletters from Chevron and RDS 1.

39 Seeletter from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton (March 2, 2011) (“Cleary”).

40 Seeletter from Statoil ASA (February 22, 2011) (“Statoil”).

Several other commentators supported exemptions for certain categories of issuers or for certain circumstances.41 For example, while opposing a general exemption for smaller reporting companies, some commentators supported an exemption for a small entity having $5 million or less in assets on the last day of its most recently completed fiscal year.42 Other commentators opposed an exemption for smaller companies because of their belief that those companies generally face greater equity risk from theiroperations in host countries than larger issuers.43

41 See, e.g.,letters from API 1, API (August 11, 2011) (“API 2”) and API (May 18, 2012) (“API 5”), ExxonMobil 1, Cleary, New York State Bar Association, Securities Regulation Committee (March 1, 2011) (“NYSBA Committee”), PetroChina Company Limited (February 28, 2011) (“PetroChina”), Petroleo Brasileiro S.A. (February 21, 2011) (“Petrobras”), Rio Tinto plc (March 2, 2011) (“Rio Tinto”), RDS 1, and Statoil.

42 Seeletters from API 1 and ExxonMobil 1. Those commentators otherwise supported the application of the payment disclosure requirements to all classes of issuers.

43 Seeletters from Global Witness 1, PWYP 1, Sen. Cardinet al.1, and Soros 1.

In addition, some commentators supported an exemption for circumstances in which issuers were subject to other resource extraction payment disclosure requirements, such as host country law, stock exchange listing requirements, or an EITI program.44 Commentators believed that issuers should be able to satisfy their obligations under Section 13(q) and the related rules by providing the disclosure reported under applicable home country laws, listing rules, or the EITI.45 Commentators asserted that this would minimize an issuer's burden of having to comply with multiple transparency standards and avoid potentially confusing duplicative disclosure.46 Other commentators, however, opposed providing an exemption for issuers based on other reporting requirements because such an exemption would result in an unlevel playing field and loss of comparability.47 Some commentators asserted that because there are not currently any other national extractive disclosure regulatory regimes equivalent to Section 13(q), providing such an exemption would be premature.48 In addition, several commentators maintained that Section 13(q) was intended to go beyond the disclosure provided under the EITI.49

44 See, e.g.,letters from API 1, British Petroleum p.l.c. (February 11, 2011 and July 8, 2011) (respectively “BP 1” and “BP 2”), Cleary, ExxonMobil 1, NYSBA Committee, Petrobras, Rio Tinto, RDS 1, Royal Dutch Shell (July 11, 2011) (“RDS 3”), Statoil, and Vale S.A. (March 2, 2011) (“Vale”). In addition, two commentators requested that the Commission align the rules with the reporting requirements to be adopted by the DOI for the U.S. EITI.Seeletters from NMA (June 15, 2012) (“NMA 3”) and Northwest Mining Association (June 29, 2012) (“NWMA”).

45 See, e.g.,letters from API 1, ExxonMobil 1, and RDS 1 (suggesting such an approach if home country requirements are at least as rigorous as Section 13(q)); AngloGold Ashanti (January 31, 2011) (“AngloGold”), BHP Billiton Limited (July 28, 2011) (“BHP Billiton”), and Vale (suggesting such an approach if disclosure is made based on EITI principles); BP 2 and RDS 3 (supporting a global common standard for transparency disclosure and, alternatively, suggesting such an approach if disclosure is made in a broadly similar manner based on EITI principles); Cleary, NYSBA Committee, Petrobras, Rio Tinto, and Statoil (suggesting such an approach if disclosure is made pursuant to home country requirements regardless of whether those requirements follow EITI principles); and Cleary, NYSBA Committee, and Statoil (suggesting alternatively such an approach if disclosure is made based on EITI principles if the company is a participant in an EITI program).

46 See, e.g.,letters from Cleary, Rio Tinto, and Statoil.

47 See, e.g.,letters from ERI 1, Global Witness 1, PWYP 1, Rep. Franket al.,Sen. Cardinet al.1, and Sen. Levin 1.

48 See, e.g.,letter from PWYP 1. In this regard, after noting that the European Commission (“EC”) is developing legislative proposals for extractive industry reporting rules in the European Union (“EU”), one commentator stated that “it is critical that country-by-country and project-by-project disclosure regulations are adopted across other major markets to ensure a level playing field and consistent reporting across countries.” Letter from Publish What You Pay U.K. (April 28, 2011) (“PWYP U.K.”). The EC subsequently published proposals for extractive industry payment disclosure requirements.Seediscussion in note 82. After the EC published the proposals, PWYP urged the Commission to take the initiative and promptly adopt final rules so that the EC can harmonize its extractive disclosure requirements with the Section 13(q) rules.Seeletter from Publish What You Pay (December 19, 2011) (“PWYP 2”). The EC proposals are currently pending.

49 Seeletters from Global Witness 1, PWYP 1, and Sen. Benjamin Cardin (December 1, 2010) (pre-proposal letter) (“Cardin pre-proposal”).

Many commentators supported an exemption from the disclosure requirements when the required payment disclosure is prohibited under the host country's laws.50 Some commentators stated that the laws of China, Cameroon, Qatar, and Angola would prohibit disclosure required under Section 13(q) and expressed concern that other countries would enact similar laws.51 Commentators stated that without an appropriate exemption, Section 13(q) would become a “business prohibition” statute that would force issuers to choose between leaving their operations in certain countries or breaching local law and incurring penalties in order to comply with the statute's requirements.52 Either outcome, according to commentators, would adversely affect investors, efficiency, competition, and capital formation.53 Some commentators further suggested that failure to adopt such an exemption could encourage foreign issuers to deregister from the U.S. market.54 Other commentators maintained that comity concerns must be considered when the Section 13(q) disclosure requirements conflict with foreign law.55 One commentator suggested that an exemption would be consistent with Executive Order 13609, which directs federal agencies to take certain steps to “reduce, eliminate, or prevent unnecessary differences in [international] regulatory requirements.”56

50 Seeletters from API 1, API 2, API 5, AngloGold Ashanti (January 31, 2011) (“AngloGold”), Spencer Bachus, Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services, and Gary Miller, Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on International Monetary Policy, Committee on Financial Services (March 4, 2011) (“Chairman Bachus and Chairman Miller”), Barrick Gold Corporation (February 28, 2011) (“Barrick Gold”), BP 1, Chamber of Commerce Institute for 21st Century Energy (March 2, 2011) (“Chamber Energy Institute”), Chevron, Cleary, ExxonMobil 1, ExxonMobil (March 15, 2011) (“ExxonMobil 2”), International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (January 27, 2011) (“IAOGP”), NMA 2, NYSBA Committee, Nexen Inc. (March 2, 2011) (“Nexen”), PetroChina, Petrobras, PWC, Rio Tinto, RDS 1, Royal Dutch Shell (May 17, 2011) (“RDS 2”), Royal Dutch Shell (August 1, 2011) (“RDS 4”), Senator Lisa Murkowski and Senator John Cornyn (February 28, 2012) (“Sen. Murkowski and Sen. Cornyn”), Split Rock International, Inc. (March 1, 2011) (“Split Rock”), Statoil, Talisman Energy Inc. (“Talisman”) (June 23, 2011), and Vale.See alsoletter from Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, Shearman & Sterling LLP, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, and Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP (November 5, 2010) (pre-proposal letter) (“Cravathet al.pre-proposal”).

51 Seeletters from API 1 and ExxonMobil 1.See alsoletter from RDS 1 (mentioning China, Cameroon, and Qatar).

52 Seeletters from Barrick Gold, Cleary, NYSBA Committee, Rio Tinto, and Statoil;see alsoletter from API 5.

53 See, e.g.,letters from API 1, ExxonMobil 1, and RDS 1;see alsoletter from API 5. Several commentators noted that the Commission has a statutory duty to consider efficiency, competition, and capital formation when adopting rules.Seeletter from American Petroleum Institute (January 19, 2012) (“API 3”), Cravathet al.pre-proposal, Senator Mary L. Landrieu (March 6, 2012), and Sen. Murkowski and Sen. Cornyn.

54 Seeletters from Cleary, Royal Dutch Shell (October 25, 2010) (pre-proposal letter) (“RDS pre-proposal”), Split Rock, and Statoil.See alsoletter from Branden Carl Berns (December 7, 2011) (“Berns”) (maintaining that some foreign issuers subject to Section 13(q) with modest capitalizations on U.S. exchanges might choose to delist in response to competitive advantages enjoyed by issuers not subject to Section 13(q)).

55 Seeletters from API 5 and NMA 2.

56 Seeletter from API 5. We note that the responsibilities of federal agencies under Executive Order 13609 are to be carried out “[t]o the extent permitted by law” and that foreign regulatory approaches are to be considered “to the extent feasible, appropriate, and consistent with law.”SeeProclamation No. 13609, 77 FR 26413 (May 4, 2012).

Other commentators opposed an exemption for host country laws prohibiting disclosure of payment information because they believed it would undermine the purpose of Section 13(q) and create an incentive for foreign countries that want to prevent transparency to pass such laws, thereby creating a loophole for companies to avoid disclosure.57 Commentators also disputed the assertion that there are foreign laws that specifically prohibit disclosure of payment information.58 Those commentators noted that most confidentiality laws in the extractive industry sector relate to theconfidentiality of geological and other technical data, and in any event, contain specific provisions that allow for disclosures to stock exchanges.59

57 See, e.g.,letters from Cambodians, EG Justice (February 7, 2012) (“EG Justice 2”), Global Witness 1, Grupo Faro, Human Rights Foundation of Monland (March 8, 2011 and July 15, 2011) (respectively, “HURFOM 1” and “HURFOM 2”), National Coalition of Senegal, PWYP 1, Rep. Franket al.,Sen. Cardinet al.1, Sen. Cardinet al.2, Sen. Levin 1, Soros 2, U.S. Agency for International Development (July 15, 2011) (“USAID”), and WACAM.

58 See, e.g.,letters from ERI 3, Global Witness 1, PWYP 1, Publish What You Pay (December 20, 2011) (“PWYP 3”), and Rep. Franket al.

59 Seeletters from Global Witness 1, Susan Maples, J.D., Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Columbia University School of Law (March 2, 2011) (“Maples”), Network for the Fight Against Hunger in Cameroon (March 14, 2011 and July 11, 2011) (respectively, “RELUFA 1” and “RELUFA 2”), and PWYP 1.

Many commentators also sought an exemption from the disclosure requirements for payments made under existing contracts that contain confidentiality clauses prohibiting such disclosure.60 According to commentators, while some contracts may permit the disclosure of information to comply with an issuer's home country laws, regulations, or stock exchange rules, those contractual provisions only allow the contracting party, not its parent or affiliate companies, to make the disclosure.61 Some commentators also sought an exemption from the requirements for payments made under future contracts containing confidentiality clauses.62

60 Seeletters from API 1, AngloGold, Barrick Gold, Chairman Bachus and Chairman Miller, BP 1, Chamber Energy Institute, Chevron, Cleary, ExxonMobil 1, IAOGP, NMA 2, NYSBA Committee, Nexen, PetroChina, Petrobras, PWC, Rio Tinto, RDS 1, Split Rock, Statoil, and Vale.

61 Seeletters from API 1 and ExxonMobil 1.

62 Seeletters from AngloGold and NMA 2. AngloGold suggested conditioning the exemption on an issuer having made a good faith determination that it would not have been able to enter into the contract but for agreeing to a confidentiality provision.

Other commentators opposed an exemption based on confidentiality clauses in contracts on the grounds that such an exemption was not necessary.63 Commentators maintained that most contracts include an explicit exception for information that must be disclosed by law, and, in cases where such language is not explicit, it generally would be read into any such contract under judicial or arbitral review.64 Commentators further stated that an exemption based on contract confidentiality would undermine Section 13(q) by creating incentives for issuers to craft such contractual provisions.65

63 Seeletters from Global Witness 1, Maples, Oxfam (March 20, 2012) (“Oxfam 3”), and PWYP 1.

64 See, e.g.,letters from Oxfam 3 and PWYP 1.See alsoletter from SIF citing the “official Production Sharing Contract of the government of Equatorial Guinea” and noting that it explicitly states that companies are permitted to share all information relating to the Contract or Petroleum Operations in the following instances: “To the extent that such data and information is required to be furnished in compliance with any applicable laws or regulation” (Article 20.1.1c) and “[i]n conformity with the requirements of any stock exchange having jurisdiction over a Party[.]” (Article 20.1.1d)).

65 See, e.g.,letters from Global Witness 1 and Oxfam 1.

Several commentators supported an exemption for situations when, regardless of the existence of a contractual confidentiality clause, such disclosure would jeopardize commercially or competitively sensitive information.66 Other commentators expressed doubt that disclosure of payment information would create competitive disadvantages because much of the information is already available from third-party service providers or through the large number of joint ventures between competitors in the extractive industries.67 Commentators also expressed concern that providing an exemption for commercially or competitively sensitive information would frustrate Congress' intent to achieve payment transparency and accountability.68

66 Seeletters from American Exploration and Production Council (January 31, 2011) (“AXPC”), API 1, Chamber Energy Institute, Chevron, ExxonMobil 1, IAOGP, Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (January 31, 2011) (“LAPFF”), NMA 2, Rio Tinto, RDS 1, and United States Council for International Business (February 4, 2011) (“USCIB”).

67 Seeletters from PWYP 1 and RWI 1;see alsoletter from Global Witness 1 (noting a study finding that the majority of disclosures that would be required pursuant to Section 13(q) would already be known to actors within the industry).

68 See, e.g.,letter from Global Witness 1. Another commentator stated that “to the extent that Section 13(q)'s reporting obligations result in some competitive disadvantage to regulated issuers, Congress already accepted this risk when it determined that pursuing the goals of promoting transparency and good governance was of paramount importance—even at the cost of an incidental burden on issuers * * * As with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, Congress made the affirmative choice to set a higher standard for global corporate practice. Other countries have already started to follow Congress' lead in this area * * * Strong U.S. leadership with respect to transparency in the extractive industries will make it easier for foreign governments to adopt similar reporting requirements, which in turn will serve to level the playing field. Letter from Oxfam 1.

Some commentators believed that the disclosure of detailed payment information would jeopardize the safety and security of a resource extraction issuer's operations or employees and requested an exemption in such circumstances.69