Wyoming U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis and Congresswoman Harriet Hageman are declaring victory after the New York Stock Exchange announced it’s dropping a controversial proposal to sell shares of land that both lawmakers vehemently opposed as potentially disastrous for land management in the West.
On Wednesday, the Stock Exchange provided notice to the Securities and Exchange Commission that it’s withdrawing a proposed rule change to allow for the creation of natural asset companies (NAC), essentially a way to raise money to buy natural asset rights on parcels of land.
Lummis told Cowboy State Daily that the rule proposal was consistent with President Joe Biden’s approach to managing the environment.
“The New York Stock Exchange’s decision not to list natural asset companies is a huge victory for Wyoming and dismantles the Biden administration’s latest land grab attempt,” Lummis said. “For far too long, this administration has openly empowered radical environmental activists to use the full force of the federal government to jeopardize Western industry and threaten the way of life we cherish.”
The New ESG
Both Lummis and Hageman had described the proposal as a new evolution of environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) scores.
“Let’s be clear, this isn’t about sustainability, it is blatant greenwashing that awards significant capital to so-called environmental groups who exist solely to sue the federal government every time it issues a permit,” Lummis said in a Wednesday letter to the SEC.
The proposal would allow NACs to be publicly traded and raise capital to buy the rights to natural assets on public and private lands. This would be done for the purpose of land conservation and protecting and growing natural assets in an ecosystem.
All Fair Game
Federal lands, including national parks and national forests, would have all been fair game for the NACs, as would any private lands with a conservation easement.
All could have then become off limits to mineral development and grazing if a NAC so desired, whose activities under the proposed rule would be limited to “conservation, restoration or sustainable management.”
NACs were also explicitly prevented from directly or indirectly conducting mining. Lummis said this would have opened the door for lawsuits against the BLM anytime it grants a permit for mineral extraction.
“This is a clear win for farmers, ranchers, loggers, miners, energy producers, energy users and all who enjoy the use of public lands,” Hageman said in a press release. “It is also a clear sign that when the insidious policies being considered by this administration are exposed, they can be defeated.”
Pressure Pays Off
Over the last month, Hageman mounted a pressure campaign to alert the public about NACs and push back the public deadline to comment on the rule proposal, which had closed in October.
In December, she and 31 other members of Congress sent a letter to the SEC to ask how the natural asset companies would operate and demand the agency extend the time allotted for comments.
Shortly after, the comment period was extended to Thursday. A total of 2,860 comments were submitted.
Lummis commended Hageman’s aggressive push to defeat the rule, describing her as one of the most vocal leaders against it.
“She has been a significant voice in calling attention to this issue,” Lummis said.
On Wednesday morning, Lummis and Washington Republican Sen. Dan Newhouse also sent a letter to the chairman of the SEC expressing concerns about the proposal. Within minutes of sending in their letter, the SEC announced the Stock Exchange had rescinded its proposal.
“I want to thank everyone that joined me in this fight, because without all your support we could never have been so successful so fast,” Hageman said. “This just goes to show that the feckless polices of this administration and nameless bureaucrats can be stopped when we work together to bring common sense back to Washington, D.C.”
Leo Wolfson can be reached at Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com.