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Companies oppose mandatory disclosures on environmental, social issues under US securities laws - former Treasury Secretaries support it

Author: Rebekah Mintzer, Corporate Counsel (USA), Published on: 26 July 2016

"In Pleas to SEC, Businesses Slam Sustainability Disclosures", 25 July 2016

In...letters to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, businesses have pushed back against efforts to make them disclose their environmental impact and stances on public policy matters...[In] April, the SEC asked for public comments on how to modernize Regulation S-K,...[on] how SEC-regulated companies disclose...business and financial information. One question raised by the SEC is whether companies should be required to make so-called environmental, social and governance (ESG) disclosures.

...[The] U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness harshly criticized the push for ESG disclosures, arguing that requiring more of this information from companies would exceed the materiality standards for disclosure set by federal securities laws. "The objective of many calling for new public company ESG disclosures is primarily to obtain some social impact or achieve a political goal," the chamber wrote... Some companies had comments of their own...[including] FedEx...

There were plenty of commenters on the other side of the argument who argued that SEC filings are the appropriate place for companies to give investors data about their environmental impact and where they stand on social and political issues...[including] former Treasury secretaries Henry Paulson, Robert Rubin and George Schultz, who commented on behalf of the Risky Business Project...

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Related companies: FedEx