Oklahoma Congressman Believes SEC Emission Reporting Could Impact Farmers

Wednesday, October 5th 2022, 6:27 pm


Oklahoma Congressman Frank Lucas, a longtime champion of the agriculture industry, is pushing legislation that he feels is necessary to keep farmers and ranchers from being saddled with burdensome emissions reporting requirements.

Under rules proposed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in March, public companies will have to provide a more detailed accounting of their greenhouse gas emissions, the environmental risks they face, and the measures they’re taking in response.

SEC Chair Gary Gensler believes the enhanced reporting is needed as investors take a greater interest in supporting companies that are working to minimize their impact on the climate, saying the rules “would provide investors with consistent, comparable, and decision-useful information for making their investment decisions.”

“Our core bargain from the 1930s,” Gensler said in a statement accompanying the proposal, “is that investors get to decide which risks to take, as long as public companies provide full and fair disclosure and are truthful in those disclosures. Today, investors representing literally tens of trillions of dollars support climate-related disclosures because they recognize that climate risks can pose significant financial risks to companies, and investors need reliable information about climate risks to make informed investment decisions.”

Rep. Lucas said carbon emissions reporting should not be the business of the SEC and worries that the burdensome emissions reporting requirement will just get passed down the supply chain.

“I’m concerned that a bakery or a packing plant will turn around when they fill out their [emissions reporting] forms and say to the feedlot or to the flower mill, ‘you fill out the stuff’,” said Lucas in an interview Tuesday. “They’ll turn around and say to the sale barn or the grain elevator, ‘you fill out this stuff.’ They’ll turn around to the farmer and rancher in the field say, ‘you fill out the stuff.’”

“Mr. Gensler and the SEC say this won’t apply to farmers out in the field and on the tractor,” said a skeptical Lucas, “I’m not comfortable with that assurance.”

Lucas said he has about 100 so-sponsors on the bill so far but realizes there’s a very small window remaining in the current session to get the bill through and that, even if he did, President Biden might not sign it.

"But I’m sending a message to the Securities and Exchange Commission," added Lucas, "that half of what will be the new majority next year in the United States House of Representatives don’t want you doing this."

The new rule has not yet been finalized and put into effect, and experts say it is certain to face legal challenges when it does.


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