April 25, 2011
Dear Chairman Schapiro,
My name is Matt Palkert, and I am a resident of Chicago, IL. I am writing you because I understand that the Securities and Exchange Commission has a unique opportunity to address the terrible situation caused by conflict minerals in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I was thrilled last year when I learned that Congress passed legislation bringing us one step closer to eliminating these conflict minerals. This legislation, found in Section 1502 of the Dodd Frank Act is now in the hands of the SEC. As you discern the most appropriate rules for this Act, I ask that you put the needs of the people of DRC at the forefront of your minds.
As a consumer, I understand that every purchase I make supports the way a product was made and brought to my hands. I want to make informed choices. I value price and quality, but I also value human dignity and the health of the environment. When I purchase a cell phone or computer, I am not comfortable knowing that some of the minerals contained within might come from conflict zones in the DRC. I want to know with certainty that minerals in products I purchase do not contribute to death or child slavery in the DRC. I want to purchase minerals that are DRC conflict-free. This choice is so important to me, and so I ask that
1.Companies be mandated to comply with all reporting requirements immediately upon release of the final rules. For example:
All of the reporting requirements should take effect immediately. Prolonging the suffering of the people in the Congo would undermine what the law intended to accomplish.
All companies should be required to comply with the full set of reporting requirements as soon as they are published.
2.Companies be required to verify whether they source minerals that benefit armed groups in the Congo. For example:
Transparency in company supply chains is at the heart of this legislation. The SEC should provide specific instructions on what companies must do to check their supply chains to find out if they are sourcing conflict minerals that contribute to violence.
The SEC should specify what companies must include in their reports on their country of origin inquiry and their due diligence on mineral sourcing.
3.Companies be required to label products DRC conflict-free to meet a high standard of proof.
Companies that wish to label products as conflict-free should have to meet a high standard of proof, and the documentation of this claim should be easily available to the public.
I would like to be able to buy products that are labeled DRC conflict-free. Companies must be required to clearly document the proof that their products merit that label.
I would be willing to pay more for a DRC conflict-free product only if the company can prove that this claim is true.
4.Information reported by companies be made easily available to the public.
In order for the information reported by companies to be useful to investors and consumers it must be made easily available both on the SECs website and on the companys website.
Information about sourcing practices that benefit armed groups who commit human rights violations must be easily accessible because they are very important to my purchasing and investment decisions.
5. The rules created by the SEC should cover all conflict minerals and all companies. For example:
The rules should cover gold, tin, tungsten and tantalum, and
All companies should be required to provide comprehensive reports, without exceptions.
Thank you for your attention to this important issue. This act will lead the way to a more peaceful world and a more educated and confident consumer population. We have a unique opportunity here to cultivate peace rather than violence. Lets take full advantage of it.