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Washington – The House Financial Services Committee today held a hearing, entitled “Beyond Scope: How the SEC’s Climate Rule Threatens American Markets,” on a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution attempting to overturn the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) climate risk disclosure rule. Organized by members of Congress who have taken over $5 million in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry, the Committee called upon witnesses whose viewpoints align with Big Oil to raise dubious concerns that disparage the rule and responsible investing broadly. The effort to kill the rule through the CRA is one of several legal tools opponents have leveraged, including three separate lawsuits filed on behalf of 22 state attorneys general

In response to the hearing, Unlocking America’s Future Spokesperson Kyle Herrig said the following:

“The comments made by some members of the House Financial Services Committee at today’s hearing were transparently self-serving attempts to appease the interests of the oil and gas industry in killing the SEC’s climate risk disclosure rule. Unlocking America’s Future commends Reps. Sean Casten (IL-06), Sylvia Garcia (TX-23), and Ranking Member Rep. Maxine Waters (CA-43), among other Committee members, for standing up to Big Oil and calling out witness’ testimony that undermined the SEC rule’s benefits to the American financial system and retirees.” Herrig continued, “The attacks made today are in direct contradiction with what investors demand and the American people want, who overwhelmingly and across party lines support climate disclosures and responsible investing.” 

Highlights from the hearing include:

  • Rep. Sean Casten (IL-06) called out Chris Wright, an oil industry CEO, for his prior statements denying climate change, to which Wright said he ‘absolutely’ agrees with his claims. 
  • Ranking Member Rep. Maxine Waters (CA-43) reinforced that the rule “will establish a clear framework to standardize climate disclosures, and in this sense, it is historic and overdue.”
  • In response to Rep. Ralph Norman’s (SC-05) questioning alluding to the rule’s overreach, witness Professor Jill Fisch of the University of Pennsylvania Law School reaffirmed, “I don’t think the SEC’s requirement is even that demanding. I think what the SEC is saying is if you suffer from a hurricane or an earthquake and your building falls down, you’ve got to disclose that cost.” 
  • Rep. Sylvia Garcia (TX-23) pushed back on her colleagues’ accusations that the rule is not reasonable, arguing that “they think that these disclosure requirements are too complicated and too high-level for the average investor to understand.” Professor Fisch previously reinforced that “mandatory disclosures levels the playing field for all investors.”
  • Rep. Joyce Beatty (OH-03) highlighted the demand for disclosure standards from investors and applauded the SEC for making the final outcome workable for all parties, noting the SEC has “bent over backwards in my opinion to address everyone’s concerns while still establishing a comprehensive disclosure framework that meets investors’ demands.

Lowlights from the hearing include: 

  • Chairman Rep. Patrick McHenry (NC-10) doubled down on Big Oil’s misinformation around the rule, accusing the SEC’s rule of not “protecting investors” or “maintaining fair, orderly, and efficient markets.” 
  • Rep. Ralph Norman’s (SC-05) told Chris Wright he admired him for not raising his hand in response to a question about whether he believed in climate change, to which Wright expanded upon his belief and said, “the biggest driver of U.S. reduced greenhouse gas emissions has been natural gas displacing coal.” 
  • When asked how climate change might impact his company, Liberty Energy, Chris Wright said “a few degrees warmer simply will not impact our operations.” Wright went on to misrepresent the findings of a report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), saying it found no significant trend in extreme weather. But in fact, that report clearly states that climate change is affecting weather extremes across every region of the world. 
  • Rep. Frank Lucas (OK-03) accused the SEC of carrying out the Biden Administration’s climate change goals “under the guise of security regulation,” despite the fact that Canada, the European Union, and even China have implemented similar disclosure standards.
  • Rep. Bill Huizenga (MI-04) downplayed the “well-funded special interest groups” who have sued the SEC over the rule (i.e., oil and gas companies) and attempted to argue that left-leaning groups stand to benefit from suing the SEC as well.