Trump’s Securities and Exchange Commission is trying to gut investor advocacy

by Jeff Conant, senior international forests program manager

While most Americans are sheltering in place, homeschooling their kids, or finding ways to support their neighbors through the coronavirus crisis, the Securities and Exchange Commission seems to be taking the opportunity to kneecap investors who care about climate change, labor rights and protecting democracy.

A new proposed rule SEC rule would drastically limit the ability of everyday shareholders to influence corporations. Instead, it would hand more power to corporate executives focused on maximizing short-term profits.

Now that coronavirus has forced Americans to turn their attention to fighting a global pandemic, the SEC quietly announced that it would delay action and extend the comment period for a set of proposed rules — but not for its changes to proxy advisor rules. Recently, Senators Sherrod Brown and Chris Van Hollen wrote to SEC Chairman Jay Clayton urging him to suspend efforts to make rules unrelated to the COVID-19 pandemic, but as with so many other regulations protecting the environment, Trump Administration officials are pushing full steam ahead to empower corporate polluters at the expense of the environment.

Shareholder resolutions have become instrumental in the fight for a more healthy and just world. Shareholder resolutions pushed Big Oil and Gas companies to report on the risks of climate change and build business plans in alignment with the Paris Climate Agreement. They have forced companies like ADM, Bunge, Tyson and Kroger to get conflict palm oil and deforestation out of their supply chains.

Perhaps most importantly, resolutions highlighting human rights risks in global supply chains have helped to curtail human trafficking and forced labor. But Trump’s corporate cronies are pressuring the SEC to wipe these rules off the books to make it more difficult for ordinary investors to vote with their dollars. And they’d love to do it while Americans’ attention is directed elsewhere.

We need shareholders who care about our environment — including Blackrock and other institutional investors who talk a good game about social responsibility — to use their power to vote on the side of the environment. The SEC shouldn’t use the distraction of one global crisis to attack and undermine our ability to address the next one.

The Trump Administration has been systematically dismantling existing regulations on the environment, the financial system, healthcare, labor, and so many other critical issues.

The move by the SEC bows to the Trump deregulatory agenda and deals a serious blow to our power to hold corporations accountable. Issuing this rule now would be the clearest possible sign that Jay Clayton and his allies on the SEC are more interested in pushing a corporate agenda than in behaving with integrity.

Engaged environmentalists need to make clear that Trump’s disdain for democracy can’t undermine our ability to make change. Especially not now.

Contact the SEC Chairman Jay Clayton and tell him to stop using the cover of this crisis to push through rules that harm shareholders and the environment. Email rule-comments@sec.gov with the subject line “S7–22–19”

--

--

--

Friends of the Earth U.S. defends the environment and champions a healthy and just world. www.foe.org

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

The Time Has Come for a Common Sense Conversation on Gun Safety

The Conservative Conundrum: Graham-Cassidy & The DREAM Act

Lost Jobs Are Retuning Unequally

On Wisconsin’s Bad Decision

Race, Poverty, and the Right to Counsel

The Gospel of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

What’s the Problem Here?

Not Tough Enough for ICE?

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Friends of the Earth

Friends of the Earth

Friends of the Earth U.S. defends the environment and champions a healthy and just world. www.foe.org

More from Medium

Are truck drivers part of society? They aren’t.

CDR in 2022 and Beyond — White Paper Highlights Rapid Advancement of Carbon Dioxide Removal…

The clean energy home series (part 4): What else is there?

California is Forcing you to Save. YES!