Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall testified in front of the U.S. House Oversight and Accountability Committee on Wednesday, advocating against the use of environmental, social governance (ESG) criteria in investment decisions.
"Alabama law, like the laws of many states, empowers me to represent the state's interests in court and to enforce the state's consumer protection laws," Marshall said. "ESG poses unique challenges to Alabama's energy consumers as well as many of our state's leading industries … but it's bigger than just Alabama. ESG is a clear and present danger to consumers and our democracy. An unelected cabal of global elites is using ESG to hijack our capitalist system, capture corporations and threaten the hard-earned dollars of American workers."
ESG scoring evaluates how a corporation aligns itself with social goals beyond earning a profit for its shareholders. These goals often pertain to environmental sustainability and advocacy for specific social movements, and commitment to DEI.
Organizations, such as MSCI, award ESG scores to corporations supposedly based on their adherence to ESG values. Large asset management groups, like BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street, and banks like JPMorgan and Bank of America use ESG ratings to choose where to direct capital.
Conservative critics have called ESG investing a "wokeness report card" and compared it to China's social credit score system.
Marshall testified alongside Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes and Illinois Treasurer Mike Frerichs.
Marshall argued that ESG raises prices and creates anti-competitive conduct while also risking retirement funds.
"ESG acolytes have openly pledged allegiance to causes over profits, often failing to give consumers adequate notice or any meaningful say in the decision to virtue signal with their hard-earned dollars," he said. "ESG is not good for American workers."
He also insisted that ESG hurts consumers by increasing energy prices and gives countries like China a competitive advantage over the United States.
"In states like Alabama, under these policies, consumers would face not only higher prices but also a lack of energy supply altogether," Marshall stated. "ESG threatens energy independence and national security."
Currently, the Alabama Legislature is dealing with two bills that, if passed, would prevent the state from entering into contracts with companies that use ESG criteria to discriminate in business practices and keep ESG from being used in public investments, such as those made by the Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA).
Last week, sources informed 1819 News that state lawmakers and ESG opponents received harsh backlash from Alabama's big business lobbyists, such as the Business Council of Alabama's (BCA) manager of Government Affairs William Newman and Regions Financial's head of government affairs and economic development Jason Isbell.
"The global elites are using ESG alliance to circumvent our system of government by shifting power to unelected elites both inside and outside the United States who are not accountable to American voters," Marshall told the committee.
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