On Transparent Stewardship of Natural Resources, U.S. is #11

A new study of natural resource transparency in 41 countries finds the U.S. among the top countries but not leading the pack. Brazil and Norway scored the highest marks, while countries such as Russia, Colombia, and Kazakhstan also ranked higher than the U.S.

The Revenue Watch Index, released today by the Revenue Watch Institute and Transparency International, compares countries' public disclosure of the money they receive for oil, gas, and minerals exploitation. As the report states, "Revenue transparency is essential to confront challenges such as corruption and citizens' mistrust of government management of resource wealth." In addition, the report notes that "increased availability of credible and verifiable information has been demonstrated to improve the quality of resource management".

The U.S. ranked 11th out of the 41 countries, scoring 71.4 out of 100 points. The report places the U.S. toward the bottom of the countries in the "Comprehensive Revenue Transparency" category, ranked between Ecuador and Timor-Leste. However, the U.S. was highlighted as one of only five countries that publish resource extraction contracts in full.

The report comes in the context of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), a global standard for transparency in the oil, gas, and mining industries. In most countries, such resources are public assets managed by governments on behalf of their citizens. EITI is supported by a multi-donor trust fund to which the U.S. contributes. The Revenue Watch Index report recommended that the U.S. also adopt the EITI transparency standards for its own resource management.

In addition, the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, signed into law this July, requires extractive companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange to disclose payments to governments. The provision was supported by Publish What You Pay, an international civil society coalition promoting transparency for extractive industries. President Obama highlighted the law in his address to the United Nations on Sept. 23.

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