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GAO Reviews Utilities' SEC Disclosure On Global Warming
GAO is no longer the Government Accounting Office. It is now the Government Accountability Office, but it is still doing good work. For example, GAO recently sent Senator Corzine (D-NJ) slides from GAO's July briefing on the SEC's environmental disclosure requirements. The briefing was at a symposium on the issue sponsored By Senator Corzine and several other members of Congress.

GAO's briefing was not limited to but focused on electric utilities' SEC filings on potential liabilities for so-called greenhouse gas emissions. These gases include carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. Man-made emissions of these gases are alleged to cause climate change, which is often referred to as "global warming." GAO concluded that disclosure varied widely among utilities, and that none estimated potential cost impacts of global warming controls.

Winston does not know whether the world's getting warmer or not. If it is getting warmer, then Winston does not know whether electric utilities are causing the temperature increase. Winston also knows nothing about SEC disclosure requirements. Winston only asks what is the point of mentioning potential greenhouse gas emission controls in your SEC filings if you don't give cost estimates?

By the way, GAO recommended that the SEC create a publicly accessible database of SEC comment letters on environmental disclosures and company responses. According to GAO, the SEC is implementing this recommendation.

  • Click for GAO report.

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