Politics of Poverty

Does fighting transparency undermine Big Oil’s charity?

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Activists outside the offices of Chevron in Houston, Texas call for oil companies to accept strong rules to implement the transparency provisions in the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Bill. Portraying oil companies as monkeys in the "see no evil, speak no evil" proverb was a way to expose efforts by the oil industry to encourage the Securities and Exchange Commission to enact weak rules that will allow them to continue to make secret payments to governments. Photo: Scott Dalton / Oxfam America

Chevron’s social work in Liberia is admirable, but its opposition to anti-corruption rules adds to real problems.

Oil, gas and mining companies should benefit the countries where they operate – this is one of the goals of Oxfam America’s extractive industries campaign. Recently The Houston Chronicle profiled Chevron’s efforts to do this in Liberia. But not mentioned was Chevron’s ongoing fight against US transparency rules.

If Chevron wants to have a lasting, positive impact in countries where it operates, as it says it does, then it should stop fighting the US law, argues Oxfam’s Ian Gary in this letter to the editor.


Regarding “Drillers, doctors team up to discover oil, save lives” (Page A1, Sunday), the story highlighted Chevron’s laudable charitable work in Liberia.

Unfortunately, not mentioned was Chevron’s continuing opposition to US transparency rules that would help fight corruption and waste in these countries, which are undermining these programs.

The real impact Chevron and other companies can have in resource-rich but still-poor countries such as Liberia is through the billions of dollars of payments that are made to governments. These funds could help fight poverty and disease but instead are often hidden, fueling rampant waste and corruption.

The 2010 Dodd-Frank Act (Section 1504) requires companies like Chevron to publicly disclose what payments they make to governments in every country. Shedding a light on these payments will help ensure that the money is reinvested into hospitals and schools and not stolen or misspent.

Ian Gary, senior policy manager, Oxfam America

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