The decade's most triggering comedy
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) contended alongside more than three dozen Republican colleagues that the Treasury Department is pressuring state insurance regulators to consider factors linked to the environmental, social, and corporate governance movement, also known as ESG.
A letter from members of the Senate asserted last week that the Federal Insurance Office, which was created to “monitor all aspects of the insurance sector,” has improperly sought to influence state-level authorities and insurance firms to consider climate risk. The entity sought public input on “how climate change could affect the insurance market” in August 2021 and proposed an “unworkable data collection effort” in order to determine which “insurance coverage areas are most susceptible to climate-related risks” in October 2022.
“Though the FIO’s actions to date do not enact formal rules or regulations, they do place pressure on state insurance regulators and insurers themselves,” the letter addressed to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said. “We are concerned that this may ultimately result in state insurance regulators and insurers feeling coerced into adopting one-size-fits-all climate-risk mitigation policies rather than building on existing efforts to mitigate risks and manage policyholders’ exposure to changing weather patterns as deemed appropriate by the insurers and state insurance regulators on the ground, which has served the industry and public well.”
The data collection effort from the Federal Insurance Office would assemble information about property and casualty insurance risks purportedly stemming from climate change in various locales across the nation. Yellen commented last year that the impact of Hurricane Ian in Florida demonstrates how “Americans are being affected by the increasing costs of climate change.”
The letter added that the actions could violate more than a century of precedent in which insurance is regulated by individual states rather than the federal government.
“The Biden administration is ignoring steps insurers and state insurance regulators are already taking and instead utilizing the FIO to continue pushing ESG policies as part of its unrealistic environmental agenda,” continued the letter, which was likewise signed by lawmakers such as Sen. John Thune (R-SD), Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), and Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY).
Authors of the letter also cited a recent veto from President Joe Biden that overturned a resolution to end a Labor Department rule which permits retirement fiduciaries to consider climate change and other ESG factors “when they make investment decisions and when they exercise shareholder rights, including voting on shareholder resolutions and board nominations.” Manchin, who faces re-election next year in a broadly conservative state, was one of only three Democrats in Congress to support the resolution, which would have preserved prior rules that required fiduciaries to “base investment decisions on financial factors” alone.
Skeptics of the ESG movement contend that the philosophy intermixes political causes, such as decreasing carbon emissions, in a manner that compromises or distracts from profitability. “The administration’s unrelenting campaign to advance a radical social and environmental agenda is only exacerbating these challenges,” Manchin said in a statement after the veto.
Endorsements of the ESG movement from the White House also correspond with attempts to more strictly regulate appliances such as gas stoves and dishwashers, as well as crack down on emissions at power plants fueled by coal and natural gas. Manchin threatened this week to oppose every nominee sent to the Environmental Protection Agency until the power plant rules are reversed.