Morrisey says SEC’s greenhouse gas reporting requirement is ‘unconstitutional’

By Matthew Young, RealWV

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – “We’ve been waiting for this for a very long time. While the Biden Administration and the SEC has made some changes to the proposed rule, what they’ve released today is still wildly in defect, and illegal and unconstitutional.”

That’s what Attorney General Patrick Morrisey told reporters regarding Wednesday’s landmark SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) ruling requiring that certain publicly-held companies disclose their greenhouse gas emissions. Morrisey announced that West Virginia and Georgia will be joining together to lead a nine-state coalition in challenging the ruling. 

“We believe that we are going to proceed in court and prevail,” Morrisey said, adding that the States of Alaska, Virginia, Indiana, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Wyoming, and Alabama have also signed onto the suit.

Morrisey called the SEC’s proposed rule an “attack against America’s energy industry” by President Joe Biden’s Administration, noting that this is the latest in a string of such “attacks.”

“It actually may be one of the most egregious attempts yet,” Morrisey said. “But this time they’re not using the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) as their tool of choice – it’s actually the Securities and Exchange Commission.”

“Let’s be clear, that’s (SEC) a financial regulator,” Morrisey added. “They’re designed to look at fraud in the pricing marketplace related to securities.”

Morrisey called the SEC ruling a “backdoor move” to impose additional federal regulatory control over the energy industry. Morrisey further noted that, as a financial regulator only, the SEC is not empowered to impose such regulations.

W.Va. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey addresses members of the media on March 6. Photo by Matthew Young, RealWV.

“Certainly the SEC has nothing to do with climate change or energy,” Morrisey said. “And for nearly a century, the SEC has known that. They’ve worked to prevent fraud with various companies. During that time – when the SEC had it’s eye on the prize – American companies grew and prospered. But today the SEC unveiled a rule unlike ever before.”

Morrisey argued that information regarding a company’s greenhouse gas emissions is “entirely unrelated” to its financial status, and that it would be “virtually impossible” for a company to determine how their environmental impact is material.

“How is a company supposed to know if greenhouse gas emissions will affect its finances?” Morrisey asked. “How many trucks are going to be too many? How much coal do you use versus natural gas or other forms of energy?”

“The SEC wants to do to private businesses what thousands of scientists cannot, and that’s to determine the exact impact of greenhouse gas emissions,” Morrisey added.

Morrisey further expressed his belief that the SEC ruling violates the 1st Amendment, saying, “We have concerns with compelled speech.”

“This is setting up a framework where the federal agency is forcing companies to put forth initiatives and disclose information that it might not otherwise want to do,” Morrisey explained. “And that potentially has some 1st Amendment problems.”

According to Morrisey, the petition, which was filed Wednesday afternoon, will be subject to “a lottery” to determine the specific court of appeals that will hear the case. Morrisey added that the lottery-process will begin in the upcoming weeks. 

RealWV will provide updates regarding the status of the challenge to the SEC’s ruling as additional information is made available. 

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