On Tuesday, Donald Trump signed a new law repealing a portion of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act — essentially giving energy and mining companies free reign to deal with foreign governments without disclosing their financial ties. The law would have fought corruption by requiring these corporations to publicly state taxes and fees paid to governments overseas.
Congress used a little-known resolution called the Congressional Review Act, which allows lawmakers to overturn regulations before they take effect. This is the same process used earlier this month to overturn the 2016 stream protection rule aimed at keeping coal pollution out of the country’s waterways. While it’s rarely been used in the past, it seems Republicans are set on using it to overturn any Obama-era legislation they can.
One especially troubling implication of the new law is how it might benefit ExxonMobil, which Rex Tillerson, now the US Secretary of State, previously led as CEO. Many have already cited his involvement in the energy industry as a conflict of interest, and his company’s close ties with the Russian government have raised suspicion.
ExxonMobil was one of several energy companies aggressively lobbying congress to overturn the rule. Considering that the company has previously been accused of suppressing research on climate change, this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone.
The disclosure rule would have required companies to begin making their foreign ties public in the first fiscal year ending on or after September 30, 2018. Now, we may never know what energy companies are hiding from us.