WASHINGTON – Over the weekend, Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission), introduced an amendment to the New Direction for Energy Independence, National Security and Consumer Protection Act (H.R. 3221). The amendment, which passed the House of Representatives unanimously, calls on the United States to further efforts regarding global energy security and promote democratic development in resource-rich foreign countries. Furthermore, the amendment requires that the U.S. Secretary of State submit an annual report to Congress on the progress made in promoting transparency, including detailed descriptions of U.S. participation in Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) to deter kleptocracy and promote transparency in the international energy market.
According to Transparency International, six of the top ten oil-exporting countries to the United States are ranked as some of the world’s most corrupt countries. Corruption and kleptocracy often lead to political instability and subsequently higher oil prices, which have the potential to impact the economic and national security interests of the United States. The Hastings amendment reflects the culmination of a series of hearings on energy security held by the U.S. Helsinki Commission including, “Pipeline Politics: Achieving Energy Security in the OSCE Region,” on June 26, 2007 and “Energy and Democracy: Oil and Water?” on July 23, 2007. (Please find attached a copy of the amendment)
“With the cost of oil per barrel estimated to be over $78, consumers in Florida and across the country are no doubt feeling pain at the pump this summer. In order to have a comprehensive U.S. energy security policy, we must take into account the impact of relying on non-democratic countries for our energy resources and what that means for our national security interests. A comprehensive energy plan that moves toward improving transparency, accountability, combating corruption, and promoting democracy and the rule of law in oil-exporting states is essential and will help accomplish the goal of energy security that is so vitally linked to our economic well being and national security interests,” Hastings said.