Markey, Others Urge SEC to Implement Conflict Minerals Rule After it is Upheld by District Court

In a letter to the Security and Exchange Commission Chair, Mary Jo White, Senator Edward J. Markey and a group of other Member of Congress urged the financial oversight agency to implement the rule requiring due diligence and reporting requirements on the sourcing of conflict minerals in the May 31, 2014 report.
 
“This SEC rule was drafted in a balanced and thoughtful way that followed Congressional intent in trying to provide greater transparency in the use of key minerals that fuel horrific violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  With strong court decisions affirming the key components of the rule, no delay is warranted in the implementation of those requirements while any remaining free speech issues are resolved,” the Members wrote. “[T]he law we passed was simple. Congress said that any company registered in the United States which uses any of a small list of key minerals from the DRC or its neighbors has to disclose in its SEC filing the use of those minerals and what is being done, if anything, to mitigate sourcing from those perpetuating DRC's violence. Such transparency allows consumers and investors to know which companies source materials more responsibly in DRC and serves as a catalyst for industry to finally create clean supply chains out of Congo.  This key provision was upheld in both court rulings. We urge the SEC to continue implementation of this rule in light of the judicial validation of both the underlying statute and the SEC's promulgated rule.
 
The regulations, passed as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform package in 2010, require companies that use key minerals mined in Congo to disclose such usage as part of their Securities and Exchange Commission filings, as well as what measures, if any, they are taking to ensure that they are not purchasing minerals from armed groups or military units, and that their trade is not fueling the region's horrific sexual violence and armed conflict. Durbin was the author of the law along with former Senators Brownback and Feingold and Representative Jim McDermott.
 
A copy of the full letter is below 
 
 
April 21, 2014
 
 
Chair Mary Jo White
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
100 F Street, NE
Washington, DC 20549
 
Dear Chair White:
 
With the Securities and Exchange Commission's Final Rule on Conflict Minerals now fully upheld by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia and with that decision largely affirmed by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, we write to urge that all due diligence and other reporting requirements due on the May 31, 2014, initial filing deadline move forward as promulgated.  This SEC rule was drafted in a balanced and thoughtful way that followed Congressional intent in trying to provide greater transparency in the use of key minerals that fuel horrific violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  With strong court decisions affirming the key components of the rule, no delay is warranted in the implementation of those requirements while any remaining free speech issues are resolved (namely the listing of specific products that are not “DRC Conflict Free” and the requirement for companies to also post their reports on their own websites).
 
This original conflict minerals law sought to address the conflict minerals black market and resulting violence in DRC – violence which has claimed more than five million lives and earned eastern Congo the ominous designation as the “Rape Capital of the World.”   This deadliest conflict since World War II is fueled, in part, by the mining and trade of minerals used in everything from cell phones, to jewelry, to airplanes. 
 
As such, the law we passed was simple. Congress said that any company registered in the United States which uses any of a small list of key minerals from the DRC or its neighbors has to disclose in its SEC filing the use of those minerals and what is being done, if anything, to mitigate sourcing from those perpetuating DRC's violence. Such transparency allows consumers and investors to know which companies source materials more responsibly in DRC and serves as a catalyst for industry to finally create clean supply chains out of Congo.  This key provision was upheld in both court rulings. 
 
We urge the SEC to continue implementation of this rule in light of the judicial validation of both the underlying statute and the SEC's promulgated rule.  We also thank the Commission for its notable work on this important topic.
 
 
                                                                                                Sincerely,
Senator Dick Durbin
Senator Tim Johnson
Senator Benjamin Cardin
Senator Barbara Boxer
Senator Sherrod Brown
Senator Edward Markey
Representative Jim McDermott
Representative Maxine Waters
Representative Raul Grijalva
Representative Jim Moran
Representative John Lewis
Representative Gwen Moore