GOP attorneys general push back against SEC climate change disclosure initiative

Two dozen GOP attorneys general wrote to the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday claiming a proposed rule would promote “policy preferences far afield of the Commission’s market-focused domain.”

“This effort reflects agency mission creep of the worst kind,” the attorneys general wrote in their letter objecting to the rule.

The SEC rule in question, known as “The Enhancement and Standardization of Climate-Related Disclosures for Investors,” would force publicly traded companies to disclose how climate change could threaten their businesses and their own contributions to global warming.

“The administration has tried and failed to impose regulation directly, and it now appears content to use back-door financial regulatory actions to implement its political will. But it is up to lawmakers to decide major policy questions like these, not unelected agency administrators,” the Wednesday letter added.

The attorneys general, led by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, further alleged that, if the rule was finalized, they “expect the Commission will use it as a precedent for asserting many new powers in extra-statutory ways.”

“Freed from any pretense of constraint, the Commission can work to mold the market to its will,” they also said.

The letter was signed by GOP attorneys general from states including West Virginia, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Mississippi, Ohio, South Carolina, Virginia, Wyoming and others.

When the SEC rule was proposed in March, Democratic SEC Chairman Gary Gensler and Commissioners Allison Lee and Caroline Crenshaw, both of whom are also Democrats, voted in favor of the rule.

SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce, the agency’s only Republican, was opposed.

Meanwhile, environmental activists, including Lena Moffitt, who is the chief of staff at climate advocacy nonprofit Evergreen Action, have praised the proposal.

Moffitt called the SEC’s proposal “an important first step to fulfill its mandate to protect investors and capital markets.”

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