The Securities and Exchange Commission — a government agency established in the aftermath of the 1929 stock market crash to protect investors and maintain fair markets — may soon become a key player in imposing President Biden's climate agenda.
In a 3-to-1 vote last week, unelected Democratic bureaucrats who serve as the agency's commissioners voted without authorization from Congress to impose sweeping new rules that require all publicly traded companies to disclose how their business affects "climate change."
According to a press release issued by the SEC, the proposed rules would require businesses to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions along with any and all information relevant to "climate-related risks that are reasonably likely to have a material impact on their business, results of operations, or financial condition."
In a lengthy statement of dissent, the SEC's lone Republican commissioner, Hester Peirce, quipped that with the move, the agency essentially re-invented itself as the "Securities and Environment Commission" without any say from the American people.
Peirce emphatically argued that the new rules will hamstring businesses with unnecessary and burdensome regulations that will ultimately harm investors and the economy. And besides that, she asserted, the SEC has no authority to enact such rules, seeing as Congress never gave the agency such broad power.
"Congress gave us an important mission — protecting investors, facilitating capital formation, and fostering fair, orderly, and efficient markets — and granted us sufficient regulatory authority to achieve that mission," she wrote. "This proposal steps outside our statutory limits by using the disclosure framework to achieve objectives that are not ours to pursue."
Despite the clear overreach, Democrats in Washington appear happy to support the move since the rules fit with the party's aggressive approach to the climate. Many, too, likely see pressuring corporations as an effective step in accomplishing their goals.
In short, the new rules aim to expose companies' track records in keeping with progressives' climate change agenda in hopes that investors will pressure the companies to adopt more environmentally friendly policies and practices.
"It will make it possible for all interested stakeholders, including shareholders, to then push companies to take real action," climate change activist Bill Weihl, formerly of Google and Facebook, told the New York Times.
Speaking with CNBC, Washington-based climate change think tank director Claire Healy celebrated the possibility that carbon-intensive companies may "lose out over time" as pressure mounts and investors are encouraged to divest.
Conservatives, however, have raised the alarm over the proposed rules, noting among other things that they would carry with them an exorbitant cost. Part of that cost would result from the need to hire third-party regulators to gather all the climate-related data the new rules require.
"No longer can a company simply disclose in free form how it imagines climate regulations or bad weather might conceivably affect its business," author and political commentator Steve Milloy wrote in an op-ed for the Washington Examiner. "Instead, companies will be required to have independent certified auditors, think climate accountants, attest to the veracity of the new corporate disclosures."
"In general, this rule will be as costly and burdensome on all businesses as the impact of Dodd-Frank and Sarbanes-Oxley," TheBlaze's Daniel Horowitz warned.
Though Milloy, for his part, seemed confident that the Supreme Court would immediately strike down the rules should they be finalized.