The SEC, a government agency created in the 1930s to protect fair markets and investors, could soon become a crucial player in President Biden’s climate plan.
On April 14, 2018, a 3-to-1 majority of unelected Democratic bureaucrats who work as the agency’s commissioners voted without any authorization from Congress to enact sweeping new rules that force all publicly listed corporations to reveal how their operations influence “climate change.”
The SEC’s proposed rules, according to a press release, would require companies to reveal their greenhouse gas emissions as well as any and all data relevant to “climate-related risks” that are “reasonably anticipated to have a material impact on [their] business, operations, or financial condition.”
The SEC’s lone GOP commissioner, Hester Peirce, mocked the rebranding in a lengthy statement of dissent, proclaiming that with the change, the agency effectively re-invented itself as the “Securities and Environment Commission” without any input from the public.
Peirce firmly asserted that the new rules will stifle corporations by imposing onerous and pointless regulations that would eventually harm investors and the economy. She also argued, to add injury to insult, that the SEC does not have the authority to create such restrictions because Congress never gave it such broad powers.
“Congress charged us with a critical goal — protecting investors, allowing capital to develop freely and efficiently, and ensuring fair, orderly, and efficient markets – and gave us adequate regulatory authority to attain it,” she added. “This measure breaches our legal boundaries by utilizing the disclosure framework to achieve goals that are beyond our scope of authority.”
Despite the obvious overreach, Democrats in Washington appear to be pleased with the decision since it fits with the party’s aggressive approach to climate change. Many, too, are likely convinced that putting pressure on businesses is a good way to get things done.
In a nutshell, the new rules intend to expose companies’ environmental performance records in order for investors to pressure them into adopting more ecologically beneficial policies and practices.
“It will allow all interested parties, including investors, to urge businesses to take real action, since they’ll be able to track how companies are progressing,” climate change activist Bill Weihl told the New York Times.
Carbon-intensive businesses may “lose out over time” as pressure increases and investors are encouraged to divest, according on a CNBC interview with Washington-based climate change think tank director Claire Healy.