SEC to demand global-warming risk disclosure from public corporations
posted at 2:10 pm on January 28, 2010 by Ed Morrissey
This Democrat-dominated government certainly has its eyes firmly set on a goal to heavily increase regulation, especially on Wall Street after the financial collapse of 2008. But how many companies face threats of failure due to anthropogenic global warming? We’ll soon find out, now that the SEC has demanded that publicly-traded corporations reveal those risks to stockholders:
A politically divided Securities and Exchange Commission voted on Wednesday to make clear when companies must provide information to investors about the business risks associated with climate change.
The commission, in a 3 to 2 vote, decided to require that companies disclose in their public filings the impact of climate change on their businesses — from new regulations or legislation they may face domestically or abroad to potential changes in economic trends or physical risks to a company.
Chairman Mary L. Schapiro and the two Democrats on the commission supported the new requirements, while the two Republicans vehemently opposed them.
“I can only conclude that the purpose of this release is to place the imprimatur of the commission on the agenda of the social and environmental policy lobby, an agenda that falls outside of our expertise and beyond our fundamental mission of investor protection,” Republican commissioner Kathleen L. Casey said.
Clearly, Casey correctly diagnoses the Democrats’ intentions on this point. They want to highlight the potential damage that some corporations do through carbon emissions, while highlighting the benefits from others who play along on AGW. Putting this in the jurisdiction of the SEC is a two-fer for the Obama administration — they can claim regulatory gains on both AGW and Wall Street.
But this may hold the potential for enormous backfire. With the cap-and-trade legislation still on the docket, all of these corporations will have to forecast for higher energy prices, more restrictive manufacturing and service standards, and the costs of retrofitting. The Obama administration and Democrats in Congress have consistently and drastically underestimated the impact of their bills on the private sector. Now, by forcing companies to analyze the impact of their environmental agendas on their bottom lines, the American public can get a much clearer and much less optimistic take on cap-and-trade and carbon-tax regulations. Because those reports will be part of the public record, analysts can compile a daunting picture of the burdens the Democratic agenda will create on private business and economic growth.
This effort still should have been killed as a ridiculous overreach on regulation. Now that the SEC has forced the matter, their Democratic allies will shortly have reason to regret it.