Image: Dvortygirl via flickr
As gas prices climb, do you think at all about where the money goes? There's some talk in Washington right now about what's driving prices up, and there's little doubt that much of it is going straight to company executives—but there's a nice chunk of change that's wholly unaccounted for.
Oxfam is trying to bring that lack of transparency to people's attention:
Imagine if a company paid the government to mine for gold or drill for oil in your backyard--but didn't ask for your permission, pay you, or give you important information about the project. Right now, oil, gas, and mining companies are doing this all around the world, often in the poorest countries.
Watch this less-than-two-minute video for a quick explainer:
The message at the end is simple: "One dollar. That can't be right. Billions of dollars come out of the ground each year, yet our schools, our children, our clinics don't benefit. Where does the money go? We have a right to know."
More than 60 percent of the world's poorest people live in countries that are rich in natural resources.
The U.S. is importing more and more of its oil from sub-Saharan Africa. Increasing the transparency within this trade, so that governments are forced to spend money on their people rather than on themselves, would do more to help African economies than any amount of foreign or humanitarian aid is capable of.
According to Oxfam, at a Senate Finance Committee with oil company CEOs yesterday, "Senator Cardin discussed a provision in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act that will require all oil, gas and mining companies reporting to the SEC to disclose their tax and other payments in every country of operation."
The measure is not without opposition—justified with the usual "competitive disadvantage" excuse that has become the ubiquitous reason for not complying with almost any standards at all. But it is necessary, if there's any hope of preventing what's been happening in Nigeria and Ecuador for years from happening in every other country that has oil we want.
More on the politics of oil overseas:
Shell Emissions Up by 9% Last Year, Natural Gas Flaring Up 32%
Shell Denies Allegations in Nigeria, Where an Exxon Valdez-sized Spill Occurs Annually
Judge Halts $18 Billion Fine Against Chevron for Pollution in the Amazon
$9 Billion Award, But Ecuador Must Look Elsewhere for Hope of Payment