Republican states contest SEC’s climate disclosure mandate in lawsuit


A lawsuit has been initiated by a coalition of ten Republican-led states against the U.S. SEC newly adopted climate-related disclosure rules.

According to ESG Today, spearheaded by states including West Virginia, Georgia, and Alabama, the legal challenge arises mere hours following the rules’ official adoption, highlighting a significant confrontation spearheaded by U.S. Congressional Republicans and supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The contentious rule, which marks a significant milestone in sustainability reporting, mandates U.S. public companies to disclose climate risks pertinent to their operations, strategies to mitigate these risks, and the financial implications of severe weather events. Notably, this rule, while having been scaled back from its original proposal—especially concerning Scope 3 emissions reporting—still represents a novel requirement for larger firms to report on Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions, contingent upon their materiality.

The lawsuit, led by Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, contests the SEC’s authority to enforce such disclosures, branding the rule as an overstep that serves a purportedly “radical-left climate agenda.” Rokita’s statement vehemently opposes what he perceives as the Biden administration’s attempt to “weaponize the Securities and Exchange Commission.”

Despite the reduction in reporting requirements from the initial draft, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has criticized the rule as a “novel and complicated” regulation that could significantly impact businesses and their investors. This sentiment echoes broader concerns regarding governmental overreach and its potential to stifle America’s economic competitiveness.

The federal response has been notably contentious, with House Financial Services Committee chairman Patrick McHenry accusing the SEC of prioritizing a partisan agenda over its statutory mission. McHenry has pledged to conduct hearings to scrutinize the rule’s implications on capital markets, stressing the need for the SEC to reconsider the rulemaking process to align with the Administrative Procedure Act’s requirements.

In defense of the climate disclosure rules, an SEC spokesperson has assured a vigorous legal defense, underscoring the commission’s commitment to enforcing transparency concerning climate risks.

This lawsuit signifies a pivotal moment in the intersection of finance, regulation, and environmental policy, reflecting the broader national debate over the role of government in mitigating climate change and its economic ramifications.

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