The SEC and global warming

On Wednesday the Securities and Exchange Commission issued “guidance” to public companies concerning the issue of global warming.  As a bit of background, all public companies are required by the SEC to disclose to investors information which might have a bearing on an investor’s decision to, let’s say, purchase or sell stock in that company.

The SEC states in it’s press release,

“We are not opining on whether the world’s climate is changing, at what pace it might be changing, or due to what causes. Nothing that the Commission does today should be construed as weighing in on those topics,” said SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro. “Today’s guidance will help to ensure that our disclosure rules are consistently applied.”

Having said that, here is one of the things companies are required to do, and, in some cases, disclose to investors:

a company should also evaluate the potential impact of pending legislation and regulation related to this topic.

So, I thought, as a public service, I would take a pass at drafting language for the annual report, for example, of your electric company that trades on the New York Stock Exchange.

“Congress is considering passing Cap and Trade legislation which would require our company to pay a tax to the government to continue producing electricity.  We have no idea what the amount of that tax will be, and, we may or may not be able to pass that tax on to our customers.  We will be limited in the amount of electricity we can produce, and that limit may or may not be sufficient to meet our customers’ demand.  If we need to produce more electricity, we may or may not be able to purchase “credits” from other companies, but, we have no idea what the cost of those credits will be, or whether any credits will be available.

If we cannot meet our customers’ demand either under our own limits, or, through purchasing credits, we may or may not need to implement rolling blackouts, which may or may not result in litigation filed against our company which we may or may not win.

All of the above is subject to change  depending upon Congress, which may or may not draft any legislation in the open (see: health care), in which case, we may or may not be able to tell you what may or may not happen in the future.”

I would guess that you all will agree that policing this new requirement will be far more productive for the SEC than, say, discovering the next Bernie Madoff.

2 replies
  1. gillie28
    gillie28 says:

    I love nature and animals and am apalled by what we have done to our environment, but am equally disgusted with partisans on both sides of the issue.  While it seems to me obvious that humans have negatively impacted the planet and caused the extinction and endangerment of many species, vested interests have co-opted the issue for their own purposes – on both sides.   Take cap and trade: The rest of the world wants to milk the US for everything it can, financially, while not requiring other countries to contribute a "fair share," which turns off manyAmericans (justifiably) – oh, and this is a perennial problem – Let America do it; Let America pay – but, I digress.   "Political correctness" stops leaders  and environmental spokespeople from criticizing places like Brazil and Indonesia who have allowed the decimation of rain forests for their own financial gain (and, yes, I do believe this is a HUGE problem – more than western factories spewing out carbons).  Then there are "green" advocates who go totally to the other extreme, and idiots like Al Gore, who have just made money out of the problems. 

    Why on earth can't we just be sensible about issues???  It seems to me that politics, rather than reason, has taken over something that is of vital interest to the survival of the planet.  Instead of labels like "global warming" and "environmental wackos" WHERE ARE THE VOICES OF REASON AND SENSIBLENESS??????  The future survival of this planet should NOT EVER be a political issue, but one that all peoples, God-fearing especially (we have been entrusted to be caretakers of this planet) should work together to solve.

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