Republicans in various corners of the United States — including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former Vice President Mike Pence — are speaking out against environmental, social, and governance investing (ESG), arguing that liberal policies are interfering with free-market opportunities.
A central focus in the brewing battle between Republicans and the Biden administration, according to reports: The Democrats' desire to factor climate change into all investment considerations.
In July, West Virginia state treasurer Riley Moore prohibited five of the largest banks in the country, including BlackRock and Goldman Sachs, from receiving state-issued banking contracts.
The rationale: Moore asserts these globally recognized banks were stealthily participating in "boycotts of fossil fuel companies," accusations for which Goldman Sachs and BlackRock deny.
In a recent letter to West Virginia officials, however, BlackRock apparently gushed about more than $118 billion being earmarked for fossil fuel companies since 2016.
When speaking with The Hill, Moore said, "I am leading the charge on this, but there is an army behind me."
A few weeks ago, Governor DeSantis said he favored moves eliminating, or phasing out a system where state investments rely on ESG ratings.
DeSantis also said the State Board of Administration, which oversees Florida's various investments, shouldn't be directing pension-fund managers to or away from projects, based on "political factors."
"We want [fund managers] to invest the state's money for the best interests of the beneficiaries of those funds, which is, again, the people that are retired cops and teachers and other public employees," said DeSantis.
According to TheIAEngine.com website, ESG has relevance in the corporate world because, "Usually associated with things like climate change, pollution, and resource scarcity, in reality, ESG covers a much wider spectrum of socio-economic issues like employability practices, diversity, social and cultural ethics, data security, and sustainability."
And in May, Pence encouraged states to curb the use of ESG investing factors.
"[Democrats] have weaponized the Securities and Exchange Commission...to choke off financing for traditional energy sources through capricious new ESG regulations that allow left wing radicals to destroy American energy producers from within," said Pence, while giving a speech in Houston, Texas.
In May, the SEC proposed rule changes aimed at cracking down on ESG "greenwashing" — the process of conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about how a company's products are more environmentally sustainable, according to Investopedia.
The agency also plans to monitor the "misleading marketing" of unsustainable investments under the ESG label.
Around that time, the SEC also launched a probe into allegations of ESG-friendly asset managers failing to report all disclosures to investors, according to a Reuters report, via Newsmax's Street Talk.
If the Republicans take over the House chamber in the November midterm elections, GOP lawmakers anticipate ESG-driven policy changes being enacted as early as January 2023.
The Hill reports that Rep. John Rose, R-Tenn., and a group of 117 lawmakers (primarily Republicans), recently sent a letter to SEC Chair Gary Gensler, claiming the new rules would "place too great a regulatory burden on farmers to report the required data," while potentially crushing small farms and adding to this nation's supply chain issues.
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