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SEC blinks on 'natural asset companies' proposal, reopens public comment period

NACs are a form of company the New York Stock Exchange proposed that would appear on the exchange to raise capital and ultimately purchase land to prevent its use for "unsustainable extractive activities."  

Published: December 22, 2023 4:20pm

Updated: December 22, 2023 5:05pm

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission this week announced that it would reopen and extend the public comment period on a proposal to create "natural asset companies" (NACs), after a coalition of state financial officers excoriated the agency for rushing the proposal through.

NACs are a form of company the New York Stock Exchange proposed that would appear on the exchange to raise capital and ultimately purchase land to prevent its use for natural resource extraction.

"The Exchange states that its proposal is intended to end the overconsumption of and underinvestment in nature, which requires bringing natural assets into the mainstream, and that NACs are a new concept pioneered by Intrinsic Exchange Group Inc," the SEC stated.

The proposal will be finalized in the coming days, at which point the comment period will last for 21 days.

The announcement follows a group of 21 state financial officers writing to SEC Chairman Gary Gensler this week demanding that he reopen the comment period and extend it by 60 days. The SEC did hold a three-week comment period earlier this year, though the group deemed that effort insufficient.

"The SEC announced the rule change on September 29 and provided for only 21 days of public comment. This public comment period is unusually brief and is insufficient, given the significance of the rule being considered," the group wrote. "We are aware of many interested parties who would have provided public comment if given sufficient time to prepare and submit their comments."

"We have many concerns regarding the substance of the rule and the implications it would have on the markets and the lands of states we represent. We would appreciate the opportunity to address them through a reasonable public comment process," they continued.

Utah state Treasurer Marlo Oaks on Friday celebrated the move, saying "I am encouraged by the SEC's announcement and hopeful this dangerous proposal will receive the scrutiny it deserves, rather than a rubber stamp approval."

"The proposed creation of Natural Asset Companies is one of the greatest threats to rural communities in the history of our country," he added. "Under the proposal, private interests, including foreign-controlled sovereign wealth funds, could use their capital to purchase or manage farmland, national and state parks, and other mineral-rich areas and stop essential economic activities like farming, grazing, and energy extraction. Recreating on Utah’s incredible natural lands could also face significant curtailment."

Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter.

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