The Department of the Interior Leads in Natural Resources Transparency
As we mark Sunshine Week, a week focused on government transparency and access to information, I want to reflect on the efforts we are making at the Department of the Interior. Open Government has been a priority for President Obama and the Interior Department since Day 1, and we have made substantial progress, particularly in reorganizing our agencies that manage offshore energy development in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. These steps have helped us make sure that oil and gas development on the Outer Continental Shelf continues safely and responsibly.
Additionally, we have reduced management conflicts by separating the way we regulate the energy industry from the way we collect royalties from oil and gas – creating more openness throughout the system. And we have strengthened scientific integrity, ensuring that the difficult resource management decisions, such as oil and gas programs on public lands, are informed by the best available, science-based findings. These are a few initiatives among many.
But there is more to do. The Department continues to play a vital role in the management, development, and collection of revenues from energy and minerals in our public lands and oceans because these resources belong to the American people, who deserve a full and transparent accounting of the development of their resources. That’s why President Obama recently launched a related initiative to join a voluntary international effort for governments and companies to disclose the revenues paid and received for extraction of oil, gas and minerals on public lands – called the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).
EITI is a reflection of the principles of the Administration’s Open Government Partnership to deliver a more transparent, participatory, and collaborative government to the American people. U.S. participation in this initiative will ensure the full and fair return of revenue to the American people for the use of their public resources and produce greater transparency and accountability in the extractive industry in the U.S.
The design of each nation’s EITI framework is country-specific and developed through a multi-year, consensus-based process. To that end, the Department is organizing a multi-stakeholder group comprised of government, industry and civil society that will jointly determine the type, and level, of information to disclose, and help develop our EITI implementation plans . Already, we are learning that our implementation of EITI is an opportunity to show the world the American values of an inclusive and open government. Just last month, a U.S. delegation attended the EITI Board meeting in the United Kingdom, then continued on to Norway to learn about evolving trends with EITI requirements, as well as to evaluate lessons learned from implementation in other countries.
The President has made this effort a signature aspect of the U.S. National Action Plan for theOpen Government Partnership, an international effort that now has fifty-two participating countries. I am honored to have been named the U.S. Senior Official responsible for implementing USEITI. Over the coming months, we will continue to engage the public in how best to implement EITI in the United States, and also craft a work plan for developing a framework for disclosures so that we can ultimately gain EITI compliance. We will also move forward in encouraging international partners to do the same.
Ken Salazar is Secretary of the Interior