May 21, 2024

(Reuters) – Wall Street’s top regulator on Tuesday told Congress his agency was working to craft coming regulations so that they spare privately held farmers from having to report their climate emissions when selling products to public companies.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is developing highly anticipated new regulations to control how publicly traded companies disclose carbon emissions, weather-related risks and transition costs tied to climate change.

Lawmakers and the agriculture industry have complained this could cause private farmers to have to report their emissions when they sell goods to publicly traded buyers.

“It is not the Commission’s intent to have farmers or ranchers in Montana or any other state… report on goods they sell to publicly traded companies,” SEC Chair Gary Gensler said in response to questions from Democratic Senator Jon Tester of Montana.

While agency officials had already said buyers of agricultural produce, who are subject to SEC rules, could likely estimate the emissions associated with the purchase, “we’ve heard comments from you and from others that that wasn’t good enough.”

“That’s what we’re looking at about how we can find an appropriate path forward.”

Under the proposal issued last year, publicly traded companies would have to disclose not only the emissions generated by their own operations and from the energy they consume but also so-called supply chain or “Scope 3” emissions from a company’s suppliers and consumers.

The Scope 3 proposal has drawn stiff resistance from industry which says it is loosely defined and costly to monitor, among other objections.

As he has previously, Gensler also resisted calls to state when the final version of the climate rule would be issued. “It’s really when the staff is ready and the commission is ready,” he said, noting that the commission had received a large volume of public comments on its proposal. “I don’t want to predict this one.”

(Reporting by Douglas Gillison; Editing by Sharon Singleton)

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