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Thune: Biden Administration’s Radical ESG Policies Have Real-World Impacts

“Between higher energy prices and higher food prices, the kind of financial hardship Americans have been experiencing during our current inflation crisis could become a fixture for the long term.”

December 7, 2022

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today expressed his concerns regarding President Biden’s far-reaching environmental, social, and governance (ESG) agenda. Thune noted that the administration has failed to examine the impact ESG policies will have on the price of food and energy, and he warns that these overreaching regulations could result in serious consequences for essential industries within our economy.

Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):

“Mr. President, when it comes to the actions of a party or a presidential administration, legislation sometimes grabs the lion’s share of the attention.


“But it’s equally important to pay attention to what a presidential administration does with its regulatory power.


“And the Biden administration has been characterized by a lot of deeply troubling regulations.


“The so-called Inflation Reduction Act may be Democrats’ most prominent Green New Deal effort, but the Biden administration’s radical environmental agenda doesn’t stop there. 


“The president has also been using regulations to push through Democrats’ Green New Deal fantasies.


“And these ill-considered, overreaching regulations could have very serious consequences.


“Later today, I will send a letter to the president about his attempts to use financial and securities regulators like the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Reserve to push through environmental, social, and governance – or ESG – regulations that seek to choke off investment to essential industries like oil and natural gas and American farms and ranches.


“Notable among these is the Securities and Exchange Commission’s proposed climate-disclosure rule, which would require publicly traded companies to disclose information not only about their own greenhouse gas emissions but also about those of their suppliers and even their customers.


“It would also require companies to determine the effects of climate-related risks on each line item of their consolidated financial statements.


“To start with, this rule is obviously unworkable. 


“Companies have zero control over the emissions of their suppliers and customers, and little to no ability to accurately gauge those emissions.


“But the most serious aspect of this proposed rule is the fact that it represents a clear effort to coerce companies to sever ties with certain industries – notably, of course, the conventional energy industry, but also with other industries like agriculture.


“And it’s hardly the only regulatory action of its kind proposed by the Biden administration.


“The Department of Labor just finalized a rule that would, in practice, require pension fiduciaries to consider climate change and ESG factors when making investment decisions, irrespective of their pecuniary relevance.


“The Federal Reserve – which I believe has zero business inserting itself into debates over climate policy – recently established a pilot program to analyze climate-related financial risks for the nation’s largest banks – something that clearly exceeds the Fed’s statutory authority.


“Similarly, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Fed have issued draft principles for large banks on ‘climate-related financial risk management.’


“And the list goes on.


“Mr. President, private companies, of course, have the right to consider whatever factors they want when determining what companies they will do business with and what they will invest in.


“But the federal government should not be making those decisions for them. 


“The president and his cronies in the far-left environmental movement may like the idea of choking off investment to the fossil fuel industry and other industries to hasten the arrival of their fantasy Green New Deal future.


“But reducing or eliminating investment in conventional energy and other essential industries is likely to create a nightmare for American families and American businesses.


“I am – and have long been – a strong supporter of alternative energy.


“But the fact of the matter is, we are still a long way away from being able to rely exclusively on alternative energy.


“The technology that would enable us to rely solely on green energy simply doesn’t exist yet.


“And pretending that we can rely exclusively on alternative energy isn’t going to change the reality, which is that we still need oil and natural gas – and will continue to need them for the foreseeable future.


“Choking off investment to the conventional energy industry isn’t going to magically bring about the Green New Deal future.


“But it is going to reduce essential energy supplies.


“And that in turn is going to increase energy prices.


“It’s going to increase energy prices for American families.


“And it’s going to increase energy prices for American businesses.


“If Democrats succeed in reducing investment in oil and natural gas, we could be looking at a very serious reduction in our supply of conventional energy – and correspondingly serious price hikes.


“And there’s reason to be concerned that Democrats aren’t just interested in choking off investment in oil and natural gas, but in agriculture as well because of natural livestock emissions and farming inputs like fertilizer.


“The National Credit Union Administration published a since-rescinded strategic plan that seemed to recommend that credit unions reduce their membership and loan offerings in farming communities.


“And South Dakota banks and credit unions have repeatedly expressed their concerns to my office that the president’s far-reaching ESG agenda could ultimately damage their ability to extend capital to their farm and ranch clients.  


“Should investment in agriculture also drop off, we could be looking not only at higher energy prices but at higher food prices as well – and, possibly, actual food supply issues.


“And between higher energy prices and higher food prices, the kind of financial hardship Americans have been experiencing during our current inflation crisis could become a fixture for the long term.


“Mr. President, Democrats still like to think of themselves as the party of the little guy.


“But the truth is, they’ve become the party of extreme special interests.


“And the little guy often ends up getting sacrificed as a result.


“Since President Biden and Democrats took office two years ago, ordinary Americans have faced almost nonstop financial challenges thanks to the inflation crisis Democrats helped create with their massive American Rescue Plan spending bill.


“And if the president’s ESG agenda continues unchecked, that diminished prosperity could last indefinitely.


“In the letter I will send to the president later today, I urge his administration to consider the real-world effects of rules and regulations on ordinary families and American businesses – and to refrain from regulatory actions that would drive up prices even further.


“I hope the president will listen.


“But if past is prologue, then I am worried that we are looking at two more years of extreme Democrat policies – and two more years of economic suffering for the American people.


“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”