U.S. Rep. Harriet Hageman signed a letter with 31 other members of Congress on Friday demanding answers from the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) about a newly proposed rule that would allow buying and selling of undefined “rights” to certain private and public lands, including to foreign nations.
The SEC proposal would let investors buy into the stock market companies trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) for the purpose of protecting nature — including public lands — and making money.
The proposal, if passed, would clear the way for the NYSE to offer this new kind of investment known as “natural asset companies,” or NACs.
More Than ESG
The idea is to list companies with environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) commitments to public or privately owned lands, and then put a monetary value to the resulting benefits, such as clean air or wildlife habitat.
To qualify as an NAC, a corporation would need to show how it’s improving the lands in its portfolio, which could include “conservation, restoration or sustainable management.”
The rule states that despite the rising prevalence of ESG in the marketplace, “investors still express an unmet need for efficient, pure-play exposure to nature and climate.”
Once in control of the land, NACs will be prohibited from engaging in “unsustainable activities” like energy production, logging and grazing; however, farming would still be allowed.
Hageman said the purpose of this rule is to end all economic activity on the lands.
“This misguided ‘rule’ has the potential to fundamentally change U.S. land access, management, use and ownership as we know it,” she said in a Friday press release. “As if that weren’t bad enough, the rule places no limits on who can buy these lands – China, Russia, Iran, and other bad actors would be free to participate and shut down U.S. energy and mineral production.”
Concerns about foreign nationals like China buying up land in America has become an increasing concern in recent years.
Demands And Accusations
The letter asks SEC Chair Erik Gerding:
• What are the “unique listing requirements” the NYSE refers to?
• Does the SEC claim oversight authority of NACs? If so, what oversight activities will the SEC perform in regard to NACs?
• By what right does the SEC have to confer “management authority” over federal lands?
In their letter, Hageman and the other co-signers accuse President Joe Biden’s administration of attempting to slip the rule through without the public finding out.
“The SEC clearly does not want the public to know about this rule or comment on it, as it has only provided a 21-day comment period,” Hageman said.
More Public Comment
A 21-day comment period was given for the proposal, which expired Oct. 25. Hageman and the letter writers are requesting a re-opening of the comment period for an additional 60 days. No final decision has been issued on the rule, but the letter said the rule is expected to be approved on Jan. 2, 2024.
Hageman said Biden “is worshiping at the climate change altar – and the sacrifice they are offering is use of the land that belongs to all of us.”
Supporters of the rule say it would give investors interested in preserving nature a place to put their money.
“We were looking for a private-sector approach that wasn’t dependent on policy, it wasn’t dependent on traditional taxes, regulation or philanthropy to price in these assets and give investors the opportunity to invest directly in nature, whether that’s for climate or biodiversity,” Intrinsic Exchange Group Chair Douglas Eger told E&E News this week.
Instead of an extraction-based lease, NACs would gain “ecological performance rights.” The value of these rights would be judged on a series of factors like carbon storage and sequestration to their viewsheds.
“The bottom line is that this is more bad rulemaking by Biden’s bureaucrats that would take away more of our rights, and it must be stopped,” Hageman said.
Leo Wolfson can be reached at Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com.