Washington Daybook: Minerals etc.

Photograph by BHP Billiton Ltd. via Bloomberg

BHP Billiton Ltd.'s United Kingdom Petroleum, in Liverpool Bay.

Transparency.

It’s a concept that people in Washington and beyond the Beltway love to talk about and rarely embrace.

Today, Exxon Mobil, BHP Billiton and other oil and mining companies would have to disclose what they pay each country they tap resources from in a rule the SEC is poised to adopt, a person with knowledge of agency deliberations tells Bloomberg News’ Jesse Hamilton. The rule required under the Dodd-Frank Act will call for public disclosures of taxes, royalties and fees paid to any government, including the U.S., for access to resources. Supporters say the new regulation will boost transparency and fight corruption in oil-rich nations. Opponents, including the American Petroleum Institute, contend that the rule will cost U.S. companies business as competitors gain access to their secret.

The SEC also votes today on the conflict-minerals rule that will require companies to say whether they are getting metals from mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo and adjoining countries linked with human-rights abuses.

Electricity generated from renewable sources such as wind and solar has increased by almost three-quarters since President Barack Obama took office on a pledge to support green energy. The BGOV Barometer shows wind turbines, municipal waste and wood, geothermal heat and solar panels will produce about 218 billion kilowatt hours of electricity in 2012, 73 percent more than in 2008.

Also today, sales of existing homes probably climbed in July from eight-month low, adding to signs U.S. housing may pick up in the second half, economists said before a report from National Association of Realtors. The Federal Reserve releases minutes of the July 31-Aug. 1 FOMC Meeting, and the Congressional Budget Office discloses its mid-year budget report.

And tonight, Carmelo Anthony, Patrick Ewing and other current and former NBA stars help President Barack Obama, a basketball fan, raise campaign funds at an “Obama Classic” event at Chelsea Piers in N.Y. Guests can shoot baskets with players for $5,000. Michael Jordan co-hosts a $20,000-a-plate dinner.

Speaking of disclosure, Republican drafters of their party’s 2012 platform reaffirmed support for a constitutional amendment banning abortion that would allow no exception for terminating pregnancies caused by rape. Concluding two days of deliberations in Tampa yesterday, the platform committee completed a 60-page draft of political positions, principles that will be submitted for adoption when the Republican National Convention begins in Tampa Aug. 27

A failed effort by the Republican hierarchy to drive U.S. Senate nominee Todd Akin out of the Missouri race underscores the party’s weakness with women that could cost it the White House and control of Congress, Bloomberg News reported today. GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan has cosponsored 38 anti-abortion measures, including some that make no allowance for rape.

After a week of assailing the Republican presidential ticket over its Medicare plans for older Americans,  Obama is shifting his attack to Republican policies for younger people. He accused Romney of wanting to cut aid to college students while extending tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations. Obama holds a roundtable discussion with teachers today in Las Vegas, then speaks at a high school. Later today, he’ll fly to New York for more campaign appearances.

Meanwhile, first lady Michelle Obama will announce that an initiative involving more than 2,000 companies has helped 125,000 military veterans find jobs, beating a goal set a year ago. The president’s wife, who will speak today at Naval Station Mayport in the election battleground state of Florida, also will set a new goal of hiring an additional 250,000 jobless veterans by the end of 2014

 

 

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