U.S. SEC extends comment period on climate risk proposal

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Senate Banking Committee holds hearing to examine the Securities and Exchange Commission on Capitol Hill in Washington

(This was refiled to correct date of existing comment deadline in May 9 story.)

By Katanga Johnson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Monday extended until June 17 the period for public comment on its landmark proposal to require U.S.-listed companies to disclose a range of climate-related risks and greenhouse gas emissions.

Gary Gensler, who heads the agency that regulates Wall Street, said the SEC extended the deadline in response to “significant interest” from a wide range of investors, issuers, market participants and other stakeholders. The initial public comment period on the proposal is set to expire in this month.

Prominent Republicans have accused the SEC of overstepping its authority with the proposed rule. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce business group has vowed to fight parts of the plan.

The agency also re-opened for 30 days its public comment period on separate proposals to boost private fund advisor disclosures and to expand Treasury trading platforms.

Corporate groups have criticized Gensler over the agency’s initial 30-day comment period windows for these and other measures, saying the comment period was too short for offering opinions on such ambitious rule changes.

“The SEC benefits greatly from hearing from the public on proposed regulatory changes,” Gensler said in a statement.

In November, Gensler said the SEC would consider new oversight rules for some platforms for trading U.S. Treasuries, a move aimed at boosting transparency and competition.In February, the watchdog proposed heightened regulations meant to scrutinize how private fund advisers charge fees to investors and measure fund performance.

In March, the SEC unveiled its climate rule proposal, in response to investor demand for consistent information on how climate change will affect the financial performance of companies in which they invest.

The proposed SEC rule forms part of President Joe Biden’s push to join global efforts to avert climate-related catastrophes.

“Commenters with diverse views have noted that they would benefit from additional time to review these three proposals, and I’m pleased that the public will have additional time to provide thoughtful feedback,” Gensler added.

On Monday, Chris Iacovella of the American Securities Association said his group was pleased to see the SEC briefly extend the comment period, but the group would like 90 additional days.

“This is still an inadequate amount of time for the American people to conduct any type of comprehensive economic analysis about the potential costs of these combined rules or how they will impact retail investors, the ability of businesses to raise capital, market integrity, and systemic risk,” he said.

(This story refiles to correct date of existing comment deadline)

(Reporting by Katanga Johnson in Washington; Editing by Will Dunham and David Gregorio)