FIRST ON FOX – Republican attorneys general are skewering the Treasury Department’s rollout of “Principles for Net-Zero Financing & Investment,” calling the guidance for private sector financing “compulsion of the green cabal” and “fly in the face” of legal scrutiny.
The GOP attorneys general are currently investigating net-zero alliances within major economy sectors like asset managers, banking, insurance and financial services providers for antitrust violations and are expected to file complaints within the year.
Last week, the Treasury published “the voluntary Principles,” which the agency said “highlight emerging best practices for private sector financial institutions that have made net-zero commitments and promote consistency and credibility in approaches to implementing them.”
However, Republican legal officials say the principles are not so “voluntary” and are akin to “compulsion of the green cabal.”
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“The administration’s heavy-handed net-zero guidance combines agency overreach with collusion between transnational financial giants, and appears intended to insulate our energy policy from any degree of accountability to the people or our elected representatives,” Tennessee AG Jonathan Skrmetti told Fox News Digital.
Net-zero commitments in practice could mean, for example, bank or insurance company could refuse to finance or insure a business based on that company’s carbon emissions.
“Use of the Principles is wholly voluntary,” the Treasury Department said. “A financial institution’s strategy, business model, size, client base, products and services, and fiduciary, regulatory, and legal obligations will affect its approach to the net-zero transition, including whether and to what extent it may choose to apply the Principles.”
“They are not standards and are not intended to be exhaustive. Significant changes and improvements in climate science and climate-related strategy and risk management are likely to occur over time, which may affect the relevance and efficacy of the resources cited in the Principles,” the department noted.
However, Montana AG Austin Knudsen argued that, “just because you say something is voluntary doesn’t mean it is voluntary.
“The coercion that we are seeing within the financial sector on ESG is a clear constraint on trade and manipulation of markets. The federal government cannot bypass the legislative and regulatory processes to protect the Net-Zero cartels from antitrust scrutiny, these ‘principles’ fly in the face of our legal system and have no standing,” he said.
This is not the first time top state officials have warned the Biden administration that their ESG – environmental, social, governance – prioritization could be unlawful.
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In May, over two dozen Republican attorneys general warned insurance companies that pushing customers “to rapidly reduce their emissions” and other efforts to “advance an activist climate agenda” could be a violation of antitrust law.
Under antitrust laws, agreements not to do business with disfavored sectors – such as those that do not meet certain carbon emissions standards – could be an illegal boycott.
The Treasury said that with the principles unveiled this week, the agency is “supporting the mobilization of more private sector capital to address the physical and economic impacts of climate change and to seize on the historic economic opportunity presented by the green transition.”
“The Administration cannot bypass legislative and regulatory processes and still protect the Net Zero cartels from antitrust scrutiny,” said Utah AG Sean Reyes.
“The coercive pressure of ESG and Net-Zero mandates across the financial sector is a constraint on trade and manipulation of markets amplified by this government syndicate. When the weight of federal authority combines with the overwhelming might of private capital, few are free from the compulsion of the green cabal,” he said.
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“Celebrating the suppression of free will in the markets with ‘principles’ and happy phrases is reminiscent of totalitarian regimes reciting doctrines in the public square while parading shiny-booted troops in front of the masses,” Reyes added.
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“Americans have awakened to the scam of ESG, so the Biden Administration must desperately try to resuscitate it,” said Alabama AG Steve Marshall.
“This has never been about the climate or consumers, but about cronyism. My colleagues and I will continue to expose this racket for what it is,” he said.
A spokeswoman for the Treasury Department did not provide comment but referred to the Principles and Secretary Janet Yellen’s comments last week.
“Researchers have estimated that there are over $3 trillion in global investment opportunities associated with the transition to net-zero each year between now and 2050,” she said.
“In the U.S., this means hundreds of billions in investment opportunities to enhance power generation and the electrical grid, retrofit buildings, and make advancements in agriculture, manufacturing, and transportation. There is extensive evidence showing that the changing climate has significant financial impacts. Without considering these factors, financial institutions risk being left behind with stranded assets, outdated business models, and missed opportunities to invest in the growing clean energy economy,” the spokeswoman added.