‘When companies agree to work together to punish disfavored views or industries,’ the Republicans wrote, ‘this coordinated behavior may violate the antitrust laws.’
by Tristan Justice, The Federalist, December 6, 2022
House Republicans launched an investigation Tuesday probing whether major climate groups that spearhead the “environmental, social, and governance” (ESG) movement are violating antitrust laws.
In a letter sent to executives of the Steering Committee for Climate Action 100+, Republicans led by Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan are demanding a treasure trove of documents that illustrate the coalition’s network of influence. Climate Action 100+, they wrote, “seems to work like a cartel to ‘ensure the world’s largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters take necessary action on climate change.'”
“Woke corporations are collectively adopting and imposing progressive policy goals that American consumers do not want or do not need. An individual company’s use of corporate resources for progressive aims might violate fiduciary duties or other laws, harming its viability and alienating consumers,” Republicans warned. “But when companies agree to work together to punish disfavored views or industries, or to otherwise advance environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals, this coordinated behavior may violate the antitrust laws and harm American consumers.”
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Jordan, the incoming chair of the House Judiciary Committee, was joined by Reps. Dan Bishop of North Carolina, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Scott Fitzgerald of Wisconsin, Cliff Bentz of Oregon, and Tom McClintock of California.
In a June op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal and cited by lawmakers, Sean Fieler, the president of Equinox Partners, a Manhattan-based investment firm, outlined how “The ESG Movement Is a Ripe Target for Antitrust Action.”
“Advancing the ESG agenda requires that the owners of capital collude to restrict the supply of certain goods and services,” Fieler wrote, after highlighting how ESG standards have effectively crushed oil and gas production. “Regardless of the colluding parties’ motivations, this is a textbook antitrust violation.”
READ: Republican Attorneys general target Vanguard's ESG policies in protest with FERC
Republican Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich launched a separate antitrust investigation into the Climate Action 100+ network in November last year.
In his own op-ed for the Wall Street Journal published in March, Brnovich, who is being term-limited out of office next year, explained why Climate Action 100+ leading the ESG movement is an antitrust violation:
Here’s what is happening: The biggest banks and money managers seek to implement a political agenda, such as compliance with the Paris Climate Accord. Then a group mobilizes: Climate Action 100+, for example, comprised of hundreds of big banks and money managers that together manage $60 trillion. The group uses its coordinated influence to compel companies to shut down coal and natural-gas plants. The activism can include pushing climate goals at shareholder meetings and voting against directors and proposals that don’t comport with the agenda, even if other decisions may benefit investors.
Firms then report their plans to Climate Action 100+, Brnovich added, which “helps ensure maximum coordinated effort toward the common goal of overhauling the energy industry.”
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“Money managers wield influence over these companies because they represent investors who are shareholders, often through their 401(k)s or pension plans,” the attorney general explained. “In other words, your retirement funds are likely helping facilitate these political campaigns to advance far-left policy goals, with consumers bearing the costs of increased energy prices.”
In August, Brnovich led a coalition of 19 states in sending a letter to BlackRock, the world’s largest asset management firm, warning the company about potential antitrust violations over the Wall Street behemoth’s championship of ESG standards.
“BlackRock’s actions appear to intentionally restrain and harm the competitiveness of the energy markets,” wrote 19 attorneys general in the joint letter. “These antitrust concerns are especially acute because BlackRock and other asset managers affirmatively tout their market dominance. BlackRock is the world’s largest investment management company, with $10 trillion in assets.”
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