June 17, 2022

SEC Climate Disclosure Proposal: Heavy Hitters Say Authority Attacks Don’t Hold Water

Does the SEC’s rule proposal on climate disclosure exceed the Commission’s statutory authority? That’s the theory that some have advanced in comment letters and that a recent court decision may portend. But this issue is far from being clear-cut. Here’s the intro from yesterday’s NYT DealBook:

A bipartisan group of 18 former top S.E.C. officials and legal luminaries are standing up for the agency’s power to make rules that require companies to disclose more information about their climate effects and risks. The group includes the former S.E.C. chairs Harvey Pitt, who was appointed by George W. Bush, and Mary Schapiro, who was appointed by Barack Obama, along with top legal experts like Leo Strine Jr., the former chief justice of Delaware’s Supreme Court, and Lucian Bebchuk, a corporate law professor at Harvard.

In a letter to the S.E.C. today, shared exclusively with DealBook, the group urges the agency to ignore claims that climate is a new issue and that it needs explicit permission from Congress to address it now, pointing to a history of S.E.C. rules going back “at least as far as the Nixon administration.”

Regardless of when this rule is adopted and how the eventual legal challenges play out, climate disclosure expectations will continue to march forward. Register today for our free 2-part webcast on July 13th, where we’ll discuss “lessons learned” from drafting model disclosures; practical steps to take right now to prepare for enhanced data collection, validation & communication; and expectations from investors and other stakeholders.

And don’t forget to take advantage of our “Early Bird” rate – which expires today! – and register now for our virtual “Proxy Disclosure & 19th Annual Executive Compensation Conferences.” Former Delaware Chief Justice Leo Strine Jr. is among the experts who will be speaking on ESG disclosures, risks & more. Here are the full agendas – 18 panels over 3 days.

Liz Dunshee