SEC petitioned to issue guidance on 'potentially false and misleading statements' on global warming

See also this related story from the Sacramento Bee: Carbon Markets Take Shape which outlines California’s agreement with six other Western states and four Canadian provinces released the draft of a plan to set up a vast market for greenhouse-gas emissions that aims to ease the burden of the war on global warming.

Starting in 2012, according to the plan, the members of the Western Climate Initiative would issue annual permits to firms that emit carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

From MarketsMedia Online:

Fund Eyes Global Warming Assertions

By Ed Zwirn, Staff Writer

A politically conservative publicly traded mutual fund has petitioned the Securities and Exchange Commission to issue interpretive guidance that would “warn registrants against making misleading statements pertaining to global warming and other environmental issues.”

All of the “potentially false and misleading statements” cited in the letter written by the Free Enterprise Management Fund tended to validate either the global warming hypothesis in general or the premise that human activity is its primary cause.Toyota motor Corp. was taken to task for having stated in a report, “When we drive a vehicle, it consumes fossil fuels and emits CO2, a major contributor to climate change.”

Similarly Caterpillar was quoted as saying that “we must take action now (to reduce carbon dioxide emissions) or risk serious harm to our planet,” and Goldman Sachs was quoted as saying “by now, the dynamics of global warming are widely known, and we find no reason to dispute the scientific assumptions.”“False and/or misleading statements on material matters may violate the anti-fraud provision of the federal securities laws,” said Steven Milloy, one of the fund’s portfolio managers. “Statements by registrants on global warming and other environmental issues could be considered material.”The petition asked that the SEC therefore issue guidance that “statements to the effect that ‘the science is conclusive,’ ‘the debate is over,’ and that ‘human activities are definitely causing global warming’ should be avoided.”To back up its assertions, the petition cited several reports that it said tended to shed doubt on global warming and its causes, arguing that they tended to “expose the above-mentioned registrant statements (and probably many others) as false and misleading.”These included a much-circulated July report by the American Physical Society claiming “a considerable presence within the scientific community who do not agree with the (U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) conclusion that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are very probably likely to be primarily responsible for the global warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution.”

Also cited was the IPCC itself, which was quoted as predicting that “global surface temperature may not increase over the next decade.”

SEC spokesman John Heine said that while he was familiar with the petition, he could not predict the commission’s response.“

The commission considers all petitions and responds in due course,” he said

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Richard deSousa
July 24, 2008 5:00 pm

It will be interesting to see which way the SEC will go. Wild unsubstantiated claims about global warming disasters to sell stocks on Wall Street should be required to back up their allegations.

Robert Wood
July 24, 2008 5:02 pm

This is subtle and complex.
At the same time, I am hearing an advert on teh radio from teh biofuels-canada (or whatever) organization stating that the evil petrolium produces CO2 while bio-fuels don’t.
Can another challenge be launched? Hmmm…? It would be some kind of fairness in advertising, or somesuch.
If any other Canadians are reading this, and are interested in chasing this idea down, post here.

Robert Wood
July 24, 2008 5:04 pm

Moderator, regarding my previous post, if any Canadian responds, please forward them my e-mail address which I believe you know.

July 24, 2008 5:13 pm

Dude, this is a volunteer position~Charles the moderator.
You could put up a website with contact info and post a link here if you’re serious.

Robert Wood
July 24, 2008 5:19 pm

OK I don’t know much about this stuff, but I’ll look into it, Charles.
Sorry if I was brusque, but it felt it a little demanding, we are already strained here. I’ll email you some advice~Charles the moderator.

Bill Illis
July 24, 2008 5:20 pm

I believe this is the same Steven Milloy who is the publisher of the JunkScience website (lots of great science background at the site even though Steven also rails against the tobacco and DDT research.)

Leon Brozyna
July 24, 2008 5:29 pm

Ah yes, hit ’em in their pockets where it counts.
Perhaps it’ll slow down this bandwagon effect, as though there’s nothing left to ponder, and let the science continue to work out the bugs as the climate cools.
What I found more interesting was that blurb on California (where else?!) setting up a carbon market. Isn’t that the state that had such a mess in electricity trading schemes that was a part of the Enron debacle? How many years after 2012 will a major fraud exposé reveal problems of shady practices in the carbon trading market? When will they ever learn? When governments set up phony markets, phony businessmen, looking for a quick and easy buck, move in.

Ed Reid
July 24, 2008 5:46 pm

Does this forever brand Steven Milloy as the “anti-Hansen”?
Enquiring minds want to know.

Joe S
July 24, 2008 6:03 pm

Title of a piece at the EU Referenum Blog regarding emissions trading… “An economic suicide pact”

Jim Carson
July 24, 2008 6:19 pm

Less well-known than Milloy, his partner and editor in Australia, Barry Hearn deserves plaudits too. Tireless debunkers both.
Bill Illis, do you have any specific criticism of Milloy & Hearn’s views on DDT? It certainly seems the world is finally learning the lessons they’ve been teaching for a decade or more.

Bobby Lane
July 24, 2008 7:25 pm

A good exposure job on a scam designed to corral business, and thus the general public, by the force of regulatory agencies since the AGW crowd cannot get what it wants from the US Government as yet. Has anyone given thought to how this violates the First Amendment right to freedom of speech? Oh, I know there are plenty of ways to find one’s way around that seemingly, but it nevertheless does violate, in my view, the First Amendment by restricting speech. If the SEC rules against that petition, one would HAVE to endorse the AGW hypothesis or risk being banned from the airwaves. Also, I think those businesses who endorse it either do so for PR concerns, or they smell money in it at some future point (aka cap and trade). Few things more sinister in my mind than to monetarily reward a business for cutting CO2 by putting people out of work to reduce its carbon footprint while at the same time making it more ‘profitable.’

July 24, 2008 7:34 pm

The current ad campaign in California by Pacific Gas & Electricity [PG&E] has a catch line in every ad: “Global warming is a choice.”
Glaring false advertising, and deliberate misrepresentation, no? Is global cooling a choice, too? Is solar irradiance a choice? El Nino? The PDO?
I recall that the last nuclear power plant that PG&E tried to build in the ’70’s, their hotshot managers inadvertently flipped the entire blueprint set, and built everything backwards. The plant never went online. The current PG&E ad writers must be their linear descendants.

Mike Borgelt
July 24, 2008 9:23 pm

I guess all the pipe threads were left hand???

July 25, 2008 1:05 am

climate rationalism will prevail over climate alarmism
and the new media (net, blogs, etc) will prevail over the sensationalism of the old media

July 25, 2008 2:34 am

The carbon market as I see is being introduced now into US economy with the help of a clear back-door strategy. What is not easily possible to achieve by Liberman-Warner bill as it faces lawmakers opposition, both from the left and the right, is being pushed ahead by bypassing American law. But what you are not discussing is a broader view of the topic.
It’s part of bigger picture. Once California put the scheme into fabrics of economy it will make a precedence which could be used as a weapon against opponents of carbon market. Of course there are more issues at stake – for example: testing possibilities in manipulation of American people’s minds, and __money__. The main goal of Kyoto deals and all follow-ups, is to control every aspect of NEW Economy in a Making. Global warming is an excellent live experimental laboratory how far people will get rid of their freedoms to those who want to rule the world. And global carbon market is an important part in this scheme.
Let me quote myself from the comments to point 2) (below):
Any “cap and trade” system is a “money generator” without production and with ZERO investment! Who do you think will benefit at the expense of the whole American society (thru higher prices)? You know the answer very well. 🙂
Whether the SEC will answer this or that is immaterial in the light of my comment. I could only add that they will do every possible nefarious deeds to get the spoils (money for nothing). (Maybe with the help of SEC as well, who knows?)
Przemysław Pawełczyk
1) A terse description of Liberman-Warner bill:
Warner-Lieberman bill could raise gas prices–lobby/warner-lieberman-bill-could-raise-gas-prices-2008-05-19.html
2) My comments to :
Opening Statement of Senator James Inhofe Senate Environment and Public Works Full Committee An Update on the Science of Global Warming and its Implications

July 25, 2008 2:41 am

Any Canadian who wants to contact Robert Wood and put together a Canadian coalition, please post in this thread and include the word “jeezhelp” so that I may search and consolidate email addresses for him simply. Please make sure that your legitimate email address is in place.
Charles the moderator.

July 25, 2008 4:12 am

The potential for mischief is great. I always wondered how this sordid affair (Climate Change as it is now called) will turn out. From insurance companies, Cap and Trade companies to the future’s markets, the is money to be had. At some point someone is going to get nailed for fraud. Unfortunately, there will be an plethora of scientists who will get caught up in these schemes. We are now a nation, not of laws, but of lawyers. Some investor or property owner will get burned financially and will file suit. Who knows, maybe even ALGORE or Hansen will be named in the suit along with NASA or the UN. We’ve already seen many corn farmers cash in.

George Bruce
July 25, 2008 7:53 am

Securities fraud is securities fraud. Promoters hustling securities with false statements is nothing new. Each generations has a new crop of crooks. Sometimes we put them in jail. Sometimes we call them Senator.

Scott Covert
July 25, 2008 8:02 am

Yes, it looks like Pandora’s box. Don’t make someone give up free speech or they will use the same law to take away yours.
Malicious intent must be present and proved, not just percieved by someone with a different opinion.

Jon Jewett
July 25, 2008 9:40 am

Your somewhat snippy exchange with the Canadian above brought to mind what must be the high personal cost to you (in time) and the worth to me of this blog.
I’ve sent you some more money.
Steamboat Jack
REPLY: Just for clarification, Jeez helps me, Anthony, the site operator, as a volunteer moderator. But I’ll make sure he gets some of the kind help you’ve provided when I visit him in SFO. Your are correct, there is a high cost in personal time. Thanks so much for your kind and thoughtful support.
REPLY 2: Your thoughtfulness is much appreciated~jeez

Captain Obviousness
July 25, 2008 9:57 am

Generally the SEC is only concerned with false statements that would affect a reasonable person’s decision to buy the security. I don’t see how a company making the statement “man made CO2 causes global warming” would be a material factor in any reasonable person’s decision to buy that company’s stock, and I don’t see how it would affect the price of the stock. Also, the SEC is generally looking for statements that are intended to deceive or that are known to be false. Presumably these companies believe in AGW and therefore they are not making statements they know to be false. I’d be shocked if the SEC didn’t just ignore this petition, particularly when the mainstream position is still that AGW is real.

retired engineer
July 25, 2008 10:34 am

It might be more appropriate to petition the Federal Trade Commission. The SEC doesn’t care much about advertising. They may wish to look into some of the claims of a certain Global Warmist who talks about his (unregistered) carbon credit trading company. is very much on top of the bogus DDT scare.

Pamela Gray
July 25, 2008 3:21 pm

If this all comes about, an investor should carefully read the prospectus I believe is required as part of the agreement to invest in this sort of thing. Risk analysis would also put this at a higher risk than normal due to the continued controversy and the overly broad band of error in model predictions. If they want to take the investment risk and then lose their shirts, oh well. I also don’t see this going into blue chip territory. The outcome is too uncertain. It’s a get rich quick scheme and a sucker is born every minute.

July 25, 2008 5:16 pm

I’ve been waiting for this for a while.
”“False and/or misleading statements on material matters may violate the anti-fraud provision of the federal securities laws
Not may, but do.
Guidance from the SEC will set the scene for court challenges to the numerous claims being made about AGW. And as we know, AGW claims haven’t faired very well in court.
Note, while other countries have SEC equivalents, their rules are less strict and less specific. So this kind of challenge can only occur in the USA.

July 26, 2008 9:46 pm

Robert Wood, no replies yet.

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