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This week in responsible investing, a coalition of big business special interests filed a lawsuit against California for its climate disclosure standards. Policymakers in Arizona convened to discuss an anti-ESG bill, and across the country in New Hampshire the State House rejected HB1267, a bill that sparked national criticism for being just plain “stupid.” On Capitol Hill, Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) introduced an anti-ESG bill, the RESPITE for Business Act.

A coalition of big business groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce filed a lawsuit against California for instituting the nation’s most ambitious climate disclosure standards. 

From UAF’s statement on the lawsuit:

The lawsuit against California is not the first time the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has attempted to mislead the American public about climate disclosures to protect their billionaire members’ interests at the expense of everyday Americans. The idea that these policies will not have any ‘notable impact on climate change’ is simply inaccurate and harmful to our economy and Americans’ financial security. Attacks against climate disclosures and responsible investing are deeply unpopular across party lines, and 70 percent of Republicans oppose government interference on these efforts.”

Policymakers in neighboring state Arizona convened to discuss HB2457, which would block the State Treasurer from considering ESG factors in investment decisions and from talking positively in public about the benefits of responsible investing.

From UAF’s statement on the legislation

This bill is yet another attempt by self-interested politicians to sow misinformation and doubt around the benefits of responsible investing. Extreme lawmakers like Rep. Steve Montenegro are acting at the behest of greedy billionaires from the oil and gas industries. These attacks against responsible investing, which are deeply unpopular across party lines, risk American jobs and retirement savings, our climate, and America’s presence on the global stage.

Across the country, the New Hampshire State House voted to kill HB1267, a bill that would make it a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison for knowingly using ESG criteria to determine investment strategies for state funds.

From UAF’s statement on the move: 

Bills like HB1267 that attempt to ban ESG practices threaten American jobs, retirement savings, and economic opportunity. Voting this bill down sends an important message to corrupt billionaires that their coordinated campaign to block responsible investing is not what the American people want.

On Capitol Hill, U.S. Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) introduced the RESPITE for Business Act in an attempt to diminish investor rights to responsibly invest. 

From UAF’s statement on the bill:

Senator Hagerty’s introduction of the RESPITE for Business Act is a woefully negligent move that infringes on American’s right to invest and hinders America’s progress on climate. This is a transparent scare tactic that contradicts what experts have been saying about ESG: it’s good for the economy and the environment. The American people don’t trust politicians to meddle in their financial decisions, and this bill is a blatant attempt to do just that.

65 members of Congress sent a letter to leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees last week warning against the anti-ESG riders planted across FY 2024 appropriations bills.

From Pensions & Investments

“As Congress works to complete this year’s federal spending bills, we write to respectfully request the exclusion of any policy rider, including those that would restrict investors’ access to information about climate and supply chain risks of publicly traded companies and interfere with government and private investment decisions,” wrote Rep. Sean Casten, D-Ill., Rep. Juan Vargas, D-Calif., Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and 62 other lawmakers in a Feb. 1 letter.

And finally, Fox Business published a story this week exploiting American farmers as the scapegoat for the outlet’s attacks against responsible investing, pointing to a new report backed by the Koch brothers. 

From UAF’s shot/chaser on the article: 

The report, titled “Net-Zero Climate-Control Policies Will Fail the Farm,” was published by the Buckeye Institute, a right-wing advocacy group that purports itself as a think tank. The Buckeye Institute has deep ties with right-wing funders, and between 2016 and 2018 received $408,000 from the Koch brothers. The Institute has also received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the State Policy Network (SPN), a right-wing investment vehicle and network of advocacy groups that pose as think tanks to push extreme agendas in statehouses across the U.S.

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