Court halts SEC climate disclosure rule

A federal court on Friday halted a new federal rule that would require publicly traded companies to reveal climate change-related information.

A panel of Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals judges issued an order that pauses the rule as litigation against it plays out.

The order, from Judges Edith Jones, Stephen Higginson, and Cory Wilson — appointed by former Presidents Reagan, Obama and Trump respectively — did not detail the reasons for the pause.

It came after fracking companies Liberty Energy and Nomad Proppant Services sued over the rule. They asked the court to halt the rule in the meantime, arguing that they are likely to ultimately prevail and in the meantime, would face compliance costs.

The pause does not necessarily mean that their case will ultimately succeed or that the rule will be overturned — but, it is an indication that the judges are at least somewhat receptive to the arguments of its opponents.

The rule in question, from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), requires companies to disclose what risks, if any, the changing climate poses for their business.

It also requires some large and mid-sized companies to disclose how much carbon dioxide they are directly emitting and how much comes from their energy use.

The SEC argued against the pause in court filings, saying that the companies did not show they would suffer imminent and irreparable harm.

“Liberty Energy—the sole petitioner seeking relief that is a publicly traded company—already publicly discloses certain climate-related risks,” said SEC Counsel John Rady in a court document.

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