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Trump Withdraws From Anti-Corruption Effort

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The Trump administration is facing criticism after it was announced on Nov. 2 that the U.S. will no longer participate in a global coalition committed to reducing corruption in the energy sector.

The board of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, established in 2003, received word from the Interior Department Nov. 2 that the U.S. will no longer implement the treaty's terms, according to CNBC.

This means that the U.S. will not ensure its laws conform to standards aimed at clamping down on corruption by oil, gas and mining companies.

Gregory Gould, director of the Office of Natural Resources Revenue, wrote in a letter that the ban was "effective immediately."

"It is clear that domestic implementation of EITI does not fully account for the U.S. legal framework," he added, according to Reuters.

An adviser at the Natural Resource Government Institute gave a reaction to the news.

"It's very disappointing. It sends such a terrible signal overseas for what we stand for," the unnamed adviser told Reuters.

Sen. Ben Cardin and former Sen. Richard Lugar, who backed the bill that saw the U.S. join EITI, were unhappy with the move, describing it as "a painful abdication of American leadership on transparency and good governance."

"The department's justification for withdrawing from EITI -- because the initiative contravenes the U.S. legal framework -- is a front meant to mask big oil and gas' money and influence, the real reason fueling this sad day in the movement toward greater global sunlight and transparency in extractive industries," they added, according to CNN.

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Fredrik Reinfeldt, chairman of the EITI board, pointed out the successes the coalition has achieved. There are 52 member states of the treaty, including many in Africa and the Middle East.

"This is a disappointing, backwards step," he added.

Corinna Gilfillan, head of Global Witness in the U.S., blamed the withdrawal on American oil companies' desire for secrecy.

"When major Russian and Chinese oil companies are disclosing more information about their deals around the world than their U.S. counterparts, you have got to ask: What are Exxon and Chevron so desperate to hide?" she said. 

CNBC previously noted reports that Interior Department officials had canceled all upcoming meetings with groups associated with EITI. Asked at the time whether the Interior Department was planning to pull out, a spokesman denied the suggestion.

In February, the Trump administration abolished the Cardin-Lugar amendment, which required oil and mining companies listed on the U.S. stock exchange to disclose payments made to foreign governments.

Sources: Reuters, CNBC / Featured Image: Shealah Craighead/ via Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: The EiTI/Flickr via Wikimedia Commons, Edward Kimmel/Flickr via Wikimedia Commons

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