The funny business of government regulations.
I consider myself a semi-intelligent person. However, I've been reading and re-reading the press release from the Securities and Exchange Commission about plans to advise companies on making disclosures related to their carbon footprints . I expended a lot of my own personal greenhouse gases trying to figure the point.
"SEC Issues Interpretive Guidance on Disclosure Related to Business or Legal Developments Regarding Climate Change" reads the slick, easy-to-read title. The Commission voted along party lines to approve "interpretive guidance on existing SEC disclosure requirements as they apply to business or legal developments relating to the issue of climate change." Corporate America is going to have to start putting a dollar figure on how its helping or harming the weather.
Except the SEC isn't saying global warming is real.
"We are not opining on whether the world's climate is changing, at what pace it might be changing, or due to what causes," says SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro. "Nothing that the Commission does today should be construed as weighing in on those topics."
"Okay, so . . . what?" writes blogger Bill Singer . "I mean, what the hell was that all about?" ?
The SEC explains that its "interpretive guidance" will highlight examples "where climate change may trigger disclosure requirements".
These examples include:
"When assessing potential disclosure obligations, a company should consider whether the impact of certain existing laws and regulations regarding climate change is material. In certain circumstances, a company should also evaluate the potential impact of pending legislation and regulation related to this topic."
How do you figure that out?
What constitutes material?
If pending legislation doesn't have a snowball's chance in a sauna-like Antarctic of passing, do you have to still disclose its potential impact?