More SEC “Climate Risk” Machinations

GAO has filed a motion in one of it’s federal FOIA cases styled as GAO v SEC (23-3268), in which it points out various findings about that “independent Commission’s” ideological advocacy as part of the Biden administration’s “whole of government” approach to imposing a never-enacted “climate” agenda. Items noted include:

Background relating to the FOIA request that was at issue in this case, bifurcated by Defendant into two requests, is as follows and is, like the records I obtained on behalf of Plaintiff in this matter, of public importance for reasons including but not limited to:

a. The request(s) at issue here followed on revelations from prior FOIA releases of machinations behind Defendant’s development of a major regulatory initiative, “climate risk disclosure”[1] (“CRD”), that has received enormous public interest in the form of comments and media coverage due to its economic importance and the breadth of this effort to intervene in the private capital markets in a way that its proponents intend will restrict the ability of politically disfavored, entirely legal industries to access capital affordably or at all. See, e.g., “The final rules reflected over 24,000 comments and intense debate about what was reasonable and necessary.” Steve Cohen, “The SEC Finally Issues its Climate Disclosure Rule,” Columbia University Climate School, March 11, 2024,; see also, generally, Editorial, “The SEC’s Political Climate Control,” Wall Street Journal, March 7, 2024,

b. Defendant is an independent commission that nonetheless was revealed by FOIA to be coordinating with senior political appointees in the White House on the Commission’s CRD rulemaking. See, “Independent Commission” SEC Coordinated with White House on ‘Climate Risk Disclosure’ Rule,” Nov. 4, 2022, and “More on ‘Independent Commission’ SEC Coordinating on ‘Climate Risk Disclosure’ with Biden White House,” Nov. 10, 2022,

c. One part of Plaintiff’s request/one of the requests as bifurcated by Defendant, request -291, sought to and did move further factual information into the public domain of Defendant’s activities taken in connection or coordination with outside consultants provided to the Commission by lobbying interests. As an example, one of these is a consulting firm ERM, whose work was provided to the Commission to assist in developing this rule by the ‘climate-accounting’ software interest which stood to benefit from the rule, called Persefoni (see, e.g., Thomas Catenacci, “Internal emails show SEC coordinated climate disclosure rules with AI firm set to financially benefit,”, Nov. 3, 2023,, which itself came under scrutiny at least in part as a result of its interactions with SEC revealed thanks to FOIA; see also, letter from Cong. Byron Donalds to SEC Chair Gensler, January 16, 2024, available at (“In addition to monetary gain, Persefoni’s relationship with the SEC has resulted in new employment opportunities for former SEC officials […] Emails show”).[2]

d. One part of Plaintiff’s request/one of the requests as bifurcated by Defendant as request number -290, sought to and did move further factual information into the public domain pertaining to Defendant’s coordination with a state regulator, the California Air Resources Board (“CARB”) on intertwining SEC’s rule with CARB’s more stringent regulation (see, e.g., Andy Marks and Tammy Whitehouse, “California Climate Disclosure: Getting Ready for New Requirements,” Wall Street Journal, Oct. 11, 2023,; also, “Separate climate disclosures for public companies proposed by the Securities and Exchange Commission have not yet been finalized.” Andy Marks and Tammy Whitehouse, “California’s Third Climate Law Requires New Carbon Offset Disclosures,” Wall Street Journal, Feb 6, 2024

Records responsive to the FOIA requests at issue in this litigation ultimately informed the public of SEC reliance on this count on another of the outside lobbies which was a subject of the request at issue here, a group called Ceres, self-described by Managing Director Steven Rothstein in records obtained in this matter as “a sponsor of these [California climate-disclosure] bills.” Page 66 of 135, Feb. 22, 2024 production, Request No. 24-00291-FOIA. For example, at the SEC’s request Ceres “connect[ed…] the right people” in California with “Chair Gensler’s climate counsel [who] is leading the work on the climate disclosure rule” to brief SEC (see, e.g., pp. 60, 66, and 77 of 135, and surrounding ‘threads’ and numerous scheduling emails, Feb. 22, 2024 production, Request No. 24-00291-FOIA; also, pp. 7 and 43 of 114, and surrounding ‘threads’ and numerous scheduling emails, Feb. 22, 2024 production, 24-00290-FOIA Responsive Records Part 2). The records further provide details for the public of further consultations between the regulators and these outside lobbies on same (see, e.g., p. 74 of 135, Defendant’s Feb. 22, 2024 production in re: Request No. 24-00291-FOIA). That is, these records I obtained for Plaintiff document an outside pressure group, identified in records released previously by the New York Office of Attorney General as one of a small number (six) of outside activist interests which together originated[3] what became the SEC’s most significant regulatory intervention in years also served as the matchmaker for Commission appointees with other policymaking offices and regulators implementing legislation that the non-profit private activist group Ceres somehow claims being “a sponsor of”.

[1] “The Enhancement and Standardization of Climate-Related Disclosures for Investors,” 89 FR 21668, March 28, 2024.

[2] See also, e.g., “The latest scandal centers on Persefoni, an emissions-tracking company that counts at least three high-ranking former Securities and Exchange Commission officials as members. Which just might have something to do with how it seemingly won huge sway in writing a new SEC rule demanding companies above a certain size must hand over their CO2 emissions data (including from their suppliers)… The SEC took six meetings — six! — with the for-profit company as the rule was being written.” Editorial, “SEC abets latest climate cheat by Dems: The Green New Deal is a shuck!,” New York Post, Oct. 14, 2023,; also, emails revealing SEC coordination on the climate-risk rule with Persefoni, obtained by Government Accountability & Oversight

[3] See documents available at blog post, ““ESG Check in”: More details on the Securities & Exchange Commission’s Activist Role in the “Whole of Government” Push on ESG, “Climate Risk Disclosure,”” Government Accountability & Oversight, January 16, 2023,, specifically

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