Last week, the Enough Project was proud to deliver citizen petitions with the names of nearly 26,000 concerned consumers to three commissioners at the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, calling for robust conflict minerals regulations as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act.
Commissioners Casey, Walter, and Aguilar were each was handed a (very large) binder of signatures – 12,292 from the Enough Project and 13,660 collected by Care2. The petitions call on the SEC to deliver strong regulations to help achieve the legislation’s purpose: to establish clean and transparent supply chains that do not source minerals from conflict mines in eastern Congo or contribute to the ongoing violent conflict waged by armed groups in the region. By signing the petition, concerned consumers had the opportunity to express why these regulations mattered to them.
We at Enough pored over the comments and wanted to share a selection of the sentiments submitted to the SEC. The nearly 26,000 people who signed come from all walks of life and collectively represent every U.S. state. Supporters of strong SEC regulations from Canada, Congo, and other countries also signed on, apparently aware of the important precedent that the U.S. is setting. We found a few celebrity names among the signatures, like actresses Emmanuelle Chriqui and Brooke Smith. Here is a small sample of some of the comments that stood out:
“It's a no-brainer. As a consumer I have the right to know where and how the materials that make the products I buy come from. I don't want the electronics I buy to support horrible abuses of human rights. With regulation, I will be able to choose conflict free products.” – Brooke Smith, CA
“As a consumer I do not want to be contributing to a deadly war. If it is possible to secure disclosure on these supply chains it should be done. No company should refuse this, people should not be dying for these minerals.” – Robyn Fluxgold, Canada
“I'm sending this from an HP Netbook, which I chose to purchase thanks to the company's commitment to eliminating conflict minerals from its supply chain. I hope my purchase is evidence that there are consumers who will make decisions based on a company's record of cooperating to end the trade in conflict minerals.” – Mary Landrum, KY
Enough was also able to talk with the three commissioners about the impact these regulations will have in the Congo, what they must include, and why it’s so important that the SEC avoid creating loopholes that could undermine the goal of creating clean U.S. supply chains and a conflict-free mineral sector in Congo.
During the meetings, the commissioners asked questions, ranging from how Enough expects companies would implement the SEC's proposed regulations, to what other countries were doing to deal with conflict minerals. We informed them that leading companies are taking real steps to trace and audit ahead of the regulations, such as the electronics industry tantalum audits and Apple's new program of concretely identifying their smelters. Some companies may always be reluctant to trace and audit, but these steps prove that it is possible for them to do so. We told them that this is what legislation is for, to help level the playing field for companies.
The commissioners told us that they appreciated hearing from concerned consumers and that they will strongly consider the submissions in adopting the final rules.
Some companies have been lobbying hard to weaken the SEC regulations, but we have no doubt the comments of 26,000 concerned consumers will stand out in the minds of each commissioner when they vote on the final regulations. We look forward to continuing to follow the rulemaking process closely and will report back with more information as we receive it.
Darren Fenwick and Sasha Lezhnev contributed to this post.