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Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall and 17 other state attorneys general believes the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) should allow more time for public comment on two Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) proposed rules. Previous public comments submitted through an online form were not received by the commission due to a “technological error.".

The SEC announced earlier in October that public comments from as far back as nearly a year and a half ago on eleven proposed rules weren’t received due to “technological error.”

Two of the 11 affected rules were ESG-related. “The Enhancement and Standardization of Climate-Related Disclosures for Investors” proposal was released for public comment on April 11 and would require disclosure of “information about a registrant's climate-related risks that are reasonably likely to have a material impact on its business, results of operations, or financial condition” such as “a registrant's greenhouse gas emissions, which have become a commonly used metric to assess a registrant's exposure to such risks.” Comments on the proposal had previously closed on May 20.

The “Enhanced Disclosures by Certain Investment Advisers and Investment Companies About Environmental, Social, and Governance Investment Practices” proposal was released for public comment on June 17 and would “require registered investment advisers, certain advisers that are exempt from registration, registered investment companies, and business development companies, to provide additional information regarding their environmental, social, and governance (“ESG”) investment practices.” Comments on the proposal had previously closed on August 16.

The SEC announced in a news release on October 7 about the “technological error” that they’d extend public comment for 14 days following publication of the reopening release in the Federal Register “to ensure that interested persons, including any affected commenters, have the opportunity to comment on the affected releases or to resubmit comments.”

However, Marshall and 17 other state attorneys general wrote to the SEC earlier this week to request an extension of the “reopened comment periods for a minimum of 60 days for all rulemaking releases affected by the technological error in the Commission’s internet comment form.”

“This short time period is insufficient to ensure that hundreds or perhaps thousands of affected entities are aware of the government glitch and know to properly respond,” Marshall and the other state attorneys general wrote. “The public needs significant, additional time to comment on these rules. That’s especially true with the two climate-related rules referenced above, which seek to usher in a market transformation. Those proposed rules—in effect if not in form— seek to reorder public companies’ priorities from maximizing shareholder returns to improving climate reputation. To achieve these goals, the Commission’s proposed rules—which sweep far beyond its traditional area of expertise or statutory authority—would compel public companies to gather, create, and disclose a crushing amount of information. Such disclosures far exceed any information investors reasonably need. And in reality, they would empower the Commission to regulate disfavored industries into oblivion.”

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email caleb.taylor@1819News.com.

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