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    Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich is leading a coalition of 24 states objecting to proposed rule changes by the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) that would require publicly-traded businesses to disclose information about their greenhouse gas emissions and discuss climate risks. The coalition filed formal comments indicating the 500-page rule titled “The Enhancement and Standardization of Climate-Related Disclosures for Investors” goes beyond the jurisdiction of the SEC and into environmental regulation. In a 44-page letter addressed to the SEC, Brnovich and the others stated that the Biden “administration has tried and failed to impose regulation directly, and it now appears content to use back-door financial regulatory actions to implement its political will.” The coalition warned, “profit will become secondary to political interests, and capitalism will fall by the wayside.” The proposed rule “seeks to make ‘decisions of vast economic and political significance.’” They accused the SEC of “taking on major policy decisions that belong to Congress.” Their letter stated, “It appears targeted against fossil-fuel companies.” They declared, “We oppose any effort to use the Commission to lock out the...
    Gary Gensler, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, at the SEC headquarters in Washington, on July 22, 2021.Melissa Lyttle/Bloomberg via Getty Images The Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday proposed two rule changes that would prevent misleading or deceptive claims by U.S. funds on their environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) qualifications and increase disclosure requirements for those funds. The proposals, which are subject to public feedback, come amid mounting concerns that some funds seeking to profit from the rise in ESG investing practices have misled shareholders over what's in their holdings, a practice known as "greenwashing." The measures would provide guidance on how ESG funds must market their names and investment practices. One proposal would update the Names Rule to encompass characteristics related to ESG. The current Names Rule says that if a fund's name suggests it's focused on a particular class of investment, such as government bonds, then at least 80% of its assets must be in that class. The change would extend the rules to "any fund name with terms suggesting that the fund focuses...
    A flag outside the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission headquarters in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022.Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images The Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday debuted a host of new rules for SPACs that, if enacted, would mark one of the broadest attempts to date at cracking down on the hot market for blank-check companies. SPACs, or special-purpose acquisition companies, have come under fire in recent years by investors who say that the firms often inflate the business outlooks of the firms they seek to acquire. Many of those companies include start-ups that have not yet become profitable. With its new rules, the SEC also hopes to address complaints about incomplete information and insufficient protection against conflicts of interest and fraud. The issues are not as pervasive in a traditional initial public offering. SPACs are typically shell firms that raise funds through a listing with the goal of buying a private company and taking it public. That process allows the often-young firms to circumvent the more rigorous scrutiny of a traditional initial public...
    by Richard Morrison   The biggest decision the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is likely to make this year will be on mandated disclosure of information related to climate change and corporate environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals. The Commission has been working on the issue since early last year, and notice of the new proposed rule posted on Monday. The contents of that rule will likely determine the future direction of “responsible” investing in the United States. In March of last year, then-Acting Chair Allison Herren Lee issued a request for information on the matter, consisting of 15 questions and described as a response to the “demand for climate change information and questions about whether current disclosures adequately inform investors.” The questions covered a wide range of topics, from how to measure greenhouse gas emissions to how climate disclosures “would complement a broader ESG disclosure standard.” When the SEC first issued guidance on climate change-related disclosures for public companies in 2010, the standards were fairly general and advisory, but the questions from last year’s request-for-information suggests that the agency’s leadership is considering...
    Last year the Biden administration called climate change a 'systemic risk' to 'American families, businesses, and the economy.'   On Monday, the Securities and Exchange Commission proposed new rules that would require public companies to make standardized disclosures of information on greenhouse gas emissions and the impact climate change could have on their businesses. Once finalized, the rules would apply to the nearly 6,000 publicly traded companies in the United States. "Today, investors representing literally tens of trillions of dollars support climate-related disclosures because they recognize that climate risks can pose significant financial risks to companies, and investors need reliable information about climate risks to make informed investment decisions," said SEC Chair Gary Gensler in a statement. Gensler was nominated to the position by President Joe Biden in January 2021 and confirmed by the Senate in April of that year. The newly proposed rules are still subject to final approval by the SEC and, if implemented, would be phased in with gradually escalating levels of disclosure for companies. By 2024, companies would be required to file information relating to climate...
    The Securities and Exchange Commission proposed a rule to compel companies to disclose climate-related risks, a major agenda item for the Biden administration that would lead to indirect pressure on the private sector to turn away from fossil fuels and reduce carbon emissions. The rule proposed Monday, which is sure to meet legal and political resistance from the industry and Republicans, creates guidelines for how and what companies must report to investors about how their operations affect the climate. It says companies must report direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions — reports that would be audited by an outside party. “Companies and investors alike would benefit from the clear rules of the road proposed in this release,” SEC Chairman Gary Gensler said. Self-reporting of climate information has already become commonplace in business as investors increasingly embrace environmental, social, and governance standards. BIDEN LOOKS TO PRESSURE INVESTORS AWAY FROM FOSSIL FUELS VIA CLIMATE DISCLOSURES The biggest question about the rules was how far the SEC would go. Some climate activists were pushing for very stringent reporting...
    U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair Gary Gensler testifies before a Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee oversight hearing on the SEC on Capitol Hill in Washington, September 14, 2021.Evelyn Hockstein | Pool | Reuters The Securities and Exchange Commission wants to know a lot more about what companies are doing about climate change. SEC Commissioners will be meeting Monday to propose rules to enhance disclosures regarding climate-related risks.  It's part of an ambitious regulatory agenda set out by SEC Chair Gary Gensler.  More than 50 proposed rules are under consideration by the SEC, one of the most ambitious regulatory agendas in decades. However, climate disclosure rules are likely to be particularly controversial. "Investors increasingly want to understand the climate risks of the companies whose stock they own or might buy," Gensler said in a July 2021 speech. "Investors are looking for consistent, comparable, and decision-useful disclosures so they can put their money in companies that fit their need," he said. The SEC will publish details of its proposed rules late Monday morning.  However, based on previous...
    The pressure is increasing on companies to follow environmental, social, and governance standards from both the private sector and the government. The Biden administration is prioritizing proposed rulemaking that would require companies to produce climate-related disclosures, most notably through the Securities and Exchange Commission, a form of indirect pressure on fossil fuel companies. The SEC is debating the extent to which it can compel companies to disclose details about how much energy they buy and how they handle climate risks. Such self-reported disclosures to investors have already become commonplace in business, and adding government-mandated ESG disclosure rules is a big goal for the administration. The SEC has been working on the disclosure rule for months now, with Chairman Gary Gensler initially announcing that the draft would be released by October and then later pushing that deadline back to January. Now it is unclear when exactly it will be unveiled, although some are beginning to get restless, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who called for “quick action” on the matter earlier this month. MUSK ACCUSES SEC OF HARASSING...
    Gary Gensler, chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), speaks during a Senate Banking Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, July 30, 2013.Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Gary Gensler says he wants mandatory disclosure on climate risks, and he wants the agency to develop a rule by the end of the year. Speaking at a webinar on Wednesday morning, titled "Climate and Global Financial Markets," Gensler said investors are demanding more information on climate change. He said prior SEC guidelines on climate disclosure were voluntary, and this had resulted in inconsistent disclosures. "Investors are looking for consistent, comparable, and decision-useful disclosures so they can put their money in companies that fit their needs.... Companies and investors alike would benefit from clear rules of the road," Gensler said. In March, the SEC sought comment from the public on climate change disclosures. "More than 550 unique comment letters were submitted in response to my fellow Commissioner Allison Herren Lee's statement on climate disclosures in March," Gensler said. "Three out of every four...
    Certain business groups, including those representing oil and gas companies and retailers, are warning the Securities and Exchange Commission that climate disclosure requirements could subject them to high costs, especially disadvantaging smaller companies and deterring their growth. Their concerns come as the SEC is taking steps toward setting requirements for public companies to report their greenhouse gas emissions and the physical risks they face from climate change. The SEC recently finished accepting public input on the issue, and it could propose a disclosure framework before the end of the year. Some of the biggest investors, asset managers, and pension funds have increasingly called on the SEC to impose disclosure requirements. Even some major public companies, such as Apple and Salesforce, have joined those calls, though supportive corporations typically already conduct comprehensive voluntary climate disclosures and have the institutional capacity to report their emissions. However, some business groups fear a climate disclosure regime will require their companies to spend to hire teams of consultants and lawyers to oversee a lengthy, complex reporting process. That could be a particular strain on smaller...
    Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron has joined colleagues from 15 states to write a letter to the head of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to oppose a plan by the Biden administration to require publicly traded companies to disclose information about climate change. The attorneys general told SEC Chair Gary Gensler that compelling the disclosures should not be pursued, especially since companies are using other methods to answer investor questions on climate change. The officials urged the SEC to focus on its mission and not look to encroach into other topics. “The Commission has an important and difficult mandate with respect to safeguarding public trading, but it is hard to see how it can legally, constitutionally, and reasonably assume a leading role when it comes to climate change,” the attorneys general wrote. The letter was in response to a March 15 public solicitation issued by then-Acting Chair Herren Lee. In a statement at that time, Lee said questions have been raised whether corporate disclosures provide sufficient information for investors and others regarding climate change disclosures....
    The Big Tech Masters of the Universe have come together to urge the SEC to require public companies to regularly disclose climate-related issues to shareholders. The letter was signed by Google’s parent company Alphabet, Amazon, Autodesk, eBay, Facebook, Intel, and Salesforce. CNBC reports that in a recent letter to SEC Chairman Gary Gensler, Google parent company Alphabet, Amazon, Autodesk, eBay, Facebook, Intel, and Salesforce all called on the SEC to mandate that public companies regularly disclose climate-related matters to their shareholders. The companies wrote to Gensler: “We believe that climate disclosures are critical to ensure that companies follow through on stated climate commitments and to track collective progress towards addressing global warming and building a prosperous, resilient zero-carbon economy.” The group outlined several principles that they believe the SEC should incorporate into rules around climate disclosures. The companies stated that businesses should report on their relevant greenhouse gas emissions measured by global standards and the SEC should lean on existing frameworks to ensure that disclosures are consistent. The group said that collectively it has purchased 21 gigawatts of clean energy and each...
    New York (CNN Business)Corporate America must be compelled to fess up about the financial risks posed by the climate crisis, a coalition of state attorneys general told the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday.In a comment letter obtained exclusively by CNN Business, California and nearly a dozen other states warn that the SEC's current disclosure rules are inadequate given the gravity of the climate crisis and the transparency investors crave."Climate change is not a distant problem to be dealt with in the future," the letter to the SEC reads. "It is here, and it threatens the US economy and its financial system." Investors holding $41 trillion demand action on climate — nowThe letter, signed by the Democratic attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Maryland and Wisconsin, calls for "comparable, specific and mandatory" climate-related disclosures by SEC-regulated firms. Specifically, the states urged the SEC to require companies to make annual disclosures of their emissions and any plans to address them; analyze and disclose the potential impacts of both climate change and climate regulation;...
    In this article CRM GOOGL AMZN ADSK EBAY FB INTC Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announces the co-founding of The Climate Pledge at the National Press Club on September 19, 2019, in Washington.Paul Morigi | Getty Images | AmazonA group of seven tech companies urged the Securities and Exchange Commission to require businesses to regularly disclose climate-related matters to their shareholders. In a letter to SEC Chair Gary Gensler on Friday, Google parent Alphabet, Amazon, Autodesk, eBay, Facebook, Intel and Salesforce shared their view in response to a request for public input on such disclosures. The tech industry has been a been vocal on climate issues in the past, even as employees have pressed the companies themselves to do better. "We believe that climate disclosures are critical to ensure that companies follow through on stated climate commitments and to track collective progress towards addressing global warming and building a prosperous, resilient zero-carbon economy," the companies wrote. In the letter, the group outlined several principles they believe the SEC should incorporate into rules around climate disclosures. They said businesses...
    Standards requiring companies to report their greenhouse gas emissions and the risks they face from climate change appear all but inevitable. In recent months, calls for climate disclosure requirements have expanded far beyond environmental and sustainability advocates. Some of the biggest investors, asset managers, pension funds, and even major public corporations themselves have demanded the Securities and Exchange Commission establish mandatory climate disclosure standards. Thus far, reporting greenhouse gas emissions and physical risks from climate change has been only voluntary in the United States. While there are several different voluntary frameworks under which companies can report, the result is inconsistent, incomplete information that advocates and investors say makes it challenging to compare companies’ performances and risks. “The current state of climate change disclosure does not meet our needs,” a coalition of investors, companies, advocacy groups, and others wrote in a statement on June 10. “Companies and investors need comprehensive, decision-useful data from all enterprises facing material climate change risks.” Signatories on the statement included investors with more than $2.7 trillion in assets under management collectively and companies such as Patagonia,...
    President Joe Biden is readying an executive order that would require companies to disclose the risks they face from climate change, special climate envoy John Kerry said this week. Kerry didn’t elaborate on the details of the order or the timing, but the move would fulfill a promise Biden made on the campaign trail to require all public companies to report their emissions and climate-related risks. Already, the Biden administration has taken a number of actions to bolster capacity at agencies such as the Treasury Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and the Federal Reserve to address the risks climate change poses to the financial system. Last month, the SEC asked for input on establishing a regime for climate disclosures. SEC TAKES FIRST STEP TOWARD REQUIRING COMPANIES TO DISCLOSE EMISSIONS AND CLIMATE RISKS The early moves from Biden's team on climate finance have already drawn fierce opposition from Republican lawmakers, who say the administration's efforts are a politically motivated attempt to choke off capital to fossil fuels. Kerry, during remarks Wednesday at a virtual...
    Pfizer asks to OK Covid vaccine for younger teens India Faces Crisis; U.K. Discourages Mourners: Virus Update The Securities and Exchange Commission is putting SPACs, especially their disclosures, under a microscope. Special purpose acquisition companies, also called black-check funds, have surged in popularity in recent months. An SEC official noted concern about a potentially lower legal standard for SPAC disclosures compared with traditional IPOs. Some of those concerns may be overblown, he said. © Provided by CNBC The SEC is eyeing potentially misleading earnings projections made by SPAC sponsors and is seeking clearer disclosures, with one official hinting Thursday that the agency may issue a future rule to rein them in. Load Error Special purpose acquisition companies, known as SPACs or blank-check funds, are a hot-ticket item on Wall Street. More from Personal Finance: There are snags in free COBRA health insurance Marriage sometimes means paying more in taxes New York is raising taxes for millionaires. Will others follow? The investments are like quasi-IPOs. A publicly traded shell company uses investor money to buy or...
    By Chris Prentice and Ross Kerber WASHINGTON/BOSTON (Reuters) - With Democrats at the helm, the U.S. securities regulator is pledging to crack down on companies and funds that mislead investors over climate change risks, but that may be easier said than done, more than a dozen attorneys and former agency officials say. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has set up a taskforce to police public companies that fail to disclose material business risks stemming from climate change, such as the potential depreciation of fossil fuel assets or supply chain disruption caused by flooding or wildfires. The 22-person team, housed within the enforcement division, will also scrutinize investment advisers and funds touting sustainable products for so-called "greenwashing" and other compliance issues, the agency said. The initiative is part of a broader effort by President Joe Biden's administration to tackle and plan for climate change. With a record $51 billion flooding into sustainable U.S. funds in 2020 alone, according to Morningstar, investors need to be better informed, the SEC says. "The commission is responding to investors' growing concerns about materially misleading...
    The Securities and Exchange Commission will seek public input on establishing a regime for requiring corporations to disclose the risks they face from climate change and policies to curb emissions. The request for comment, which acting SEC Chairwoman Allison Herren Lee announced Monday, is likely a first step toward the agency requiring such disclosures from companies. Investors, including large asset managers such as BlackRock, and environmental groups have strongly called for mandatory disclosures, especially as they say it becomes increasingly clear that climate change poses a serious risk to the financial system. SEC SIGNALS BACKING FOR REQUIRING COMPANIES TO DISCLOSE CLIMATE RISKS “It’s time to move from the question of ‘if’ to the more difficult question of ‘how’ we obtain disclosure on climate,” Lee said during remarks at a virtual event hosted by the Center for American Progress. Lee said she is seeking input on questions such as what data and metrics the SEC should use, whether disclosure should be industry-specific, and how to ensure a climate disclosure regime is “sufficiently flexible” to adapt to market and scientific developments. ...
    Virus updates: US sees deadliest day — again Protein folding discovery could mean big things Cheesecake Factory Settles SEC Charges Regarding Disclosures Cheesecake Factory shares eased after the restaurant chain settled Securities and Exchange Commission charges that it made "misleading disclosures" about the effect of the coronavirus pandemic. © TheStreet Cheesecake Factory Settles SEC Charges Regarding Disclosures The SEC said the action against the Calabasas Hills, Calif., company is its first to charge a public company with misleading investors about the financial effects of the pandemic. Load Error The company agreed to a $125,000 penalty without admitting or denying the SEC's findings. Cheesecake Factory shares recently traded at $39.67, up 0.6%. The shares had firmed 1.5% year to date through Thursday. Many restaurants have struggled during the pandemic, as their dining rooms were closed for months and consumers stayed at home. "In its SEC filings on March 23 and April 3, 2020, The Cheesecake Factory stated that its restaurants were 'operating sustainably' during the covid-19 pandemic," the SEC said in a statement. "According...
    A Cheesecake Factory restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky.Andy Lyons | Getty Images The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged and settled with the Cheesecake Factory for misleading investors with its Covid-19 disclosures. This is the first time that the regulator has charged a company for misleading investors about the financial impacts of the pandemic. Without admitting to the SEC's findings, the restaurant company has agreed to pay a $125,000 fine and to not conduct further violations of the reporting provisions of securities laws. The Cheesecake Factory's regulatory filings from March 23 and April 3 were "materially false and misleading," according to the SEC. The company said that its restaurants were "operating sustainably" during the pandemic as states across the country implemented lockdowns. But internal documents at that time showed the Cheesecake Factory was losing about $6 million in cash per week, with only 16 weeks of cash remaining. While the company chose not to include that information in its regulatory filings, it did share that information with potential private equity investors or lenders as it sought additional liquidity during the crisis....
    VIDEO1:4601:46Cramer: SEC's proposed change to institutional disclosures hurts small investorsMad Money with Jim Cramer CNBC's Jim Cramer on Wednesday railed against a proposal to update a security law that provides oversight over Wall Street activity. "Hardly anyone's talking about this, but the Securities and Exchange Commission is getting ready to push through what I regard as an outrageous rule change that would make the market a lot less transparent," the "Mad Money" host protested. "If you believe Wall Street is important, if you believe business is important, if you believe the market is important, then the public deserves to know who owns what."  Earlier this month, the SEC proposed adjusting Form 13F, a quarterly report intended for sizeable institutional investment managers to submit, to expand the reporting threshold for the first time since the rule was first imposed. The rule change, if approved, would require quarterly disclosures from institutional investors that hold $3.5 billion in assets, up from the $100 million threshold currently in place. The federal agency said it would give compliance costs relief to smaller managers, to which Cramer...
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