SEC chairman Gary Gensler
When is a climate policy not a climate policy? Apparently when Chairman Gary Gensler of the Securities and Exchange Commission is trying to disguise the intent of his forthcoming climate-disclosure rule while testifying before Congress.
The SEC last spring proposed a highly controversial rule that would require public companies to disclose their putative climate risks and greenhouse gas emissions, including those of suppliers and customers. [emphasis, links added]
The rule is expected to be finalized soon and will likely meet a swift legal challenge under the Supreme Court’s major questions doctrine because Congress never authorized it.
Mr. Gensler told the Senate Banking Committee last week this was no big deal. The rule is “built on multi-decades authority about disclosure” going back to New Deal legislation, he claimed. Nice try.
The 1934 Securities Exchange Act allows the SEC to mandate disclosures that are “necessary or appropriate in the public interest or for the protection of investors.”
But even the Obama SEC in 2016 conceded that “a specific congressional mandate” would be necessary before adopting a climate disclosure rule.
How does it benefit the public and investors to require, say, Walmart to calculate its greenhouse gas emissions? The mandate will merely increase business costs, which will be passed on to customers.
Mr. Gensler also claimed he is merely trying “to bring comparability to that which is already happening” and that “over 80% of the top 1,000 companies in 2021 were making climate disclosures.”
But climate and greenhouse gas emissions aren’t equally material to all businesses. His one-size-fits-all regulation is trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.
The chairman’s biggest whopper was his assertion that “we have no climate agenda whatsoever.”
Yet emails obtained by Energy Policy Advocates through a Freedom of Information Act request show that SEC officials have been working on the rule with the climate outfit Ceres, whose stated goal is to “achieve a zero emissions future.”
Mr. Gensler may not want to risk the wrath of Congress by admitting that a climate disclosure rule amounts to a climate agenda.
But the rule’s goal is to give the climate lobby and trial lawyers ammunition to attack business. That’s why they’re pressuring Mr. Gensler to force it through on a partisan vote.