Trump’s SEC Blocks Shareholder Climate Resolution at Oil Company’s Request
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has blocked a shareholder resolution to set greenhouse gas-emissions targets, setting a troubling precedent for shareholders who want to use their collective power to fight climate change, Axios reported Monday.
The investment firm Trillium Asset Management had intended to propose a resolution at an annual shareholders' meeting this spring calling on EOG Resources, the largest oil-producer in Texas, to set dates for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But EOG complained to the SEC in December, asking the government agency to bar the resolution from a vote on the grounds that it would "micro-manage" the company.
The SEC ruled in EOG's favor in February, and rejected an appeal from Trillium in March, marking the first time that the SEC has ruled to block an emissions-related proposal for non-technical reasons.
"What the SEC has done here really feels like interfering with the marketplace, substituting their judgment for what shareholders and investors already think and do," Trillium shareholder-advocacy director Jonas Kron told Axios.
Trillium is far from the first investment group to use a similar proposal as an attempt to push fossil-fuel companies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Axios cited data from the Sustainable Investments Institute saying that 130 such resolutions had been proposed since 2010.
According to Adam Kanzer of Domini Impact Investments, this decision is likely not a part of the larger Trump administration attack on climate action, but rather part of a business-led push to reduce shareholder proposals generally. A month before EOG complained, the SEC issued a legal guidance that seemed to broaden the definition of "micro-management," and the SEC rejected other moves by companies to block climate-related shareholder proposals when those complaints did not use the "micro-management' argument.
However, if the EOG decision is part of a shift in SEC policy, it could still have a negative impact on the efforts of shareholders to push companies on climate change.
"If the SEC is shifting its view on what micromanagement means, it has implications for almost any proposal you file, from human rights to the environment," Kanzer told Axios.
President Donald Trump's appointee for SEC chairman, Jay Clayton, has not expressed the same outright hostility to climate science as other influential members of the administration. Before heading the SEC, Clayton worked at a law firm that encouraged its fossil-fuel industry clients to disclose climate-related risks to investors in compliance with a 2010 SEC directive, The International Business Times reported.
The International Business Times cited concerns that the Trump administration might move to overturn that directive, which issued guidelines for how publicly traded companies should report the potential impacts of climate change on their businesses. However, a new report on the requirement publicized by the Government Accountability Office Monday said that the SEC had no plans to alter the directive in any way.
Shareholder Group Urges Shell to Go Green https://t.co/dpOgyJr6Ha @NRDC @350 @SierraClub @ClimateReality @ClimateNexus @DeSmogBlog #shell— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1522069513.0
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Four years ago, Jacob Abel cast his first presidential vote for Donald Trump. As a young conservative from Concord, North Carolina, the choice felt natural.
But this November, he plans to cast a "protest vote" for a write-in candidate or abstain from casting a ballot for president. A determining factor in his 180-degree turn? Climate change.
Fractures Among Young Climate Conservatives<p>While young conservatives have united around the urgency of climate change, they remain divided over how to bring their concerns to the ballot box. Some embrace right-wing <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-attacks-republican-convention/2020/08/24/434e5b46-e66d-11ea-970a-64c73a1c2392_story.html" target="_blank">attacks</a> painting Biden as a "tool of the left" and find his climate agenda "radical." Others can't find a way to justify voting for Trump, even if it means breaking with their party.</p><p>Patrick Mann from Orange County, California, voted for Trump in 2016. But today, he's leading Aggies for Joe at Texas A&M University and is co-founder of Texas Students for Biden. </p><p>Mann grew up watching wildfires ravage his home state, nearly forcing his family to evacuate in 2017. The GOP is failing to "meet the moment" for climate action, Mann said. He's hoping Biden will deliver on a promise to "<a href="https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/caucus/2020/01/06/joe-biden-democrat-president-iowa-caucus-restore-soul-our-nation/2806422001/" target="_blank">restore the soul of our nation</a>." </p><p>Taylor Walker from Pensacola, Florida, is also determined to make her voice heard on climate, including by casting her first-ever vote for president—but not for Biden.</p>
A False Equivalency<p>Young climate conservatives may fear climate denial and delayed climate action, but more than that, they fear the growing political momentum around the Green New Deal, the massive spending it entails and <a href="https://joebiden.com/climate-plan/" target="_blank">Biden's citing of it</a> as a "crucial framing for meeting the climate challenges we face."</p><p>Many don't want to split with their party to support a Democrat whose <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/09/03/757220130/joe-biden-on-bipartisanship-gun-control-and-regrets-over-inaction-after-a-traged" target="_blank">allegedly bipartisan intentions</a> they doubt. If stymieing what they consider a radical green agenda means re-electing a climate change denying president, so be it. </p><p>"I'm scared of climate change, but I'm also scared of the Green New Deal and what it means for America," said Ben Mutolo, a republicEN spokesperson and junior at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. </p><p>Mutolo felt encouraged by former Ohio Governor John Kasich's <a href="https://www.rollcall.com/2020/08/17/kasich-speech-to-democratic-convention-follows-years-of-building-conservative-credentials/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">appearance</a> at the Democratic National Convention, but he still struggles to see himself voting for Biden. Though the candidate paints himself as a <a href="https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-08-12/harris-biden-different-generation-similar-political-instinct" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">centrist,</a> Mutolo believes he's "cozying up to the ultra-progressive left." </p><p>Mutolo, who wants to see market-based climate solutions like a carbon tax, feels torn between a candidate whose climate plan relies on taking an "<a href="https://joebiden.com/environmental-justice-plan/#" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">All-of-Government approach</a>," and one with no efforts to reign in global warming at all. <span></span></p><p>Leiserowitz said he appreciated how a conservative might feel Biden's climate plan "doesn't jive with their limited government, free-market approach."</p><p>But he sees a strong distinction between voting for a presidential candidate with a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/us/politics/biden-climate-plan.html" target="_blank">$2 trillion climate plan</a> that includes large renewable energy investments, which have <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/politics-global-warming-april-2020/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bipartisan support</a>, and a candidate trying "to take the country in the opposite direction, towards more fossil fuels."</p>
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