A Republican congressman on Tuesday slammed the use of environmental, social, and governance investing and said that “asset managers are prioritizing ESG goals over profit and risking Americans’ hard-earned money.”
“Millions of Americans across the country trust their investments will be used to make a profit and hopefully one that they can live on comfortably in retirement because what we’re really after here, what we’re all investing in the long term, is financial security,” Rep. Pat Fallon, R-Texas, said at a hearing. “But these days it’s not crazy for many Americans to wonder: Will I even be able to afford retirement?”
“This administration has driven inflation through the roof, it’s at a 40-year high, and pushed the economy to the brink of a major recession, which we all pray won’t happen, but it very well could in the next year,” Fallon, chairman of the economic growth, energy policy, and regulatory affairs subcommittee, said. “Now, due to Democrats’ ESG push, asset managers are prioritizing ESG goals over profit and risking Americans’ hard-earned money.”
ESG, which stands for environmental, social, and governance, is a business framework that elevates environmental and social causes over profit and shareholder value creation and has been popularized by some businesses and financial investors.
House Oversight and Accountability subcommittees on economic growth, energy policy, and regulatory affairs and health care and financial services held a hearing Tuesday titled “ESG Part II: The Cascading Impacts of ESG Compliance.”
“With ESG investing, businesses are now tasked with accounting not only for their own carbon footprints, but maybe the footprint of their contractors and suppliers, the race and gender of their corporate boards instead of the merit and performance of those same corporate board members,” Fallon said.
“I am for the freedom to invest your own money into the causes you the client actually believes in. But that’s not what’s happening here. Managers are investing your money in causes they believe in and we are seeing real consequences for Americans’ retirements,” Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Mich., said at the hearing. “Americans’ retirement assets were down nearly 15% last year. Fifteen percent.”
“This includes state pension funds. State pension funds support teachers, librarians, firefighters, and other public sector employees,” McClain, chairwoman of the health care and financial services subcommittee, said.
McClain also said, “Some states, such as Texas and Kansas, are actually getting in front of this by advancing laws that restrict investments that consider non-financial factors, remember they’re in the financial sector, they should be focusing on financial factors, like ESG for state pension funds.”
Mandy Gunasekara, director of the Independent Women’s Forum Center for Energy & Conservation; Jason Isaac, director of of Life:Powered at the Texas Public Policy Foundation; and Stephen Moore, distinguished fellow in economics at The Heritage Foundation, testified on Tuesday. Shivaram Rajgopal, Roy Bernard Kester and T.W. Byrnes professor of accounting and auditing at Columbia Business School, was the Democrats’ witness.
“The ‘E’ standards result in higher cost energy, unreliable electricity grids, and stand to undermine environmental progress,” Gunasekara said. “The ‘E’ standards also enrich high-end asset managers at BlackRock, State Street, and Vanguard at the expense of retirees and pensioners.”
“‘S’ standards force companies to engage in controversial political issues, such as campaigns to defund the police or promoting ‘gender transitions’ in children, cultivating division in the workplace and the marketplace,” Gunasekara, who is also a visiting fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Energy, Climate, and Environment, said. “‘G’ standards give the appearance of diversity while restricting freedom of thought and competing viewpoints in the workforce.” (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)
“Now, ESG standards are purposefully complex and convoluted in the hopes that the everyday man and woman will not catch on,” Gunasekara said.
Jessica Anderson, executive director of Heritage Action for America, the grassroots arm of The Heritage Foundation, weighed in on Tuesday’s hearing.
“Today’s hearing is another crucial step in investigating and exposing the true cost of progressive ESG policies,” Anderson told The Daily Signal in an emailed statement. “The coercion caused by harmful ESG compliance distorts business risk assessments and upends the freedom of private market decisions.”
“Lawmakers at both the state and federal level should continue evaluating the threat of ESG and its impact on American industries,” Anderson said.
Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email letters@DailySignal.com and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the url or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state.