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NYSE Pulls Proposal To Create Publicly Funded Companies To Buy Up Public and Private Lands

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SEC was mulling over a plan that would allow for the creation and listing of a new type of company called Natural Asset Company (NAC) for public investment
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After weeks of public comment and pushback from state officials and organizations like Blue Ribbon Coalition, the SEC announced Wednesday that the NYSE had withdrawn its proposal for a new type of company listing called Natural Asset Companies for public investment.

The purpose of NAC was to create public companies that buy public and private lands— including National Parks— to solve climate change. On the NYSE’s website, they claim, “To address the large and complex challenges of climate change and the transition to a more sustainable economy, NYSE and Intrinsic Exchange Group (IEG) are pioneering a new class of listed company based on nature and the benefits that nature provides (termed ecosystem services). NACs will capture the intrinsic and productive value of nature…”

Critics of the proposal cite the blatant administrative and corporate overreach, ethic concerns, security concerns, misuse of capital, and misuse of natural resources.

Vocal opponent Marlo M. Oaks, State Treasurer of Utah, stated, “The proposed creation of Natural Asset Companies is one of the greatest threats to rural communities in the history of our country. 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.”

More than 30 State Financial Officers signed a letter condemning the plan.  In their letter, they state, “We believe that the value of the good provided by nature is undeniable, but unquantifiable. If it is made quantifiable, even using crude and arbitrary methods (as this proposal would do), then it takes what is thought of as a “public good,” like air, and makes it a private commodity from which people can profit at the expense of others. This is a terribly dangerous idea.”

The SFOF’s main concerns were the following:

  • NACs are private entities which make a business out of reducing economic activity.
  • NACs rely on untested methods of accounting which they do not believe have any place in the public markets.
  • NACs present serious national security concerns.

The BlueRibbon Coalition, a non-profit organization that champions responsible use of public and private lands for recreationists, led a campaign for state and public comment opposing the NYSE proposal. Upon the NYSE’s withdrawal, Ben Burr, BlueRibbon Executive Director, stated, “This is a big victory for those of us who opposed this rule that was quietly introduced into the Federal Register. We appreciate the thousands of our members and supporters who sent feedback to the SEC and to Congress to oppose this rule. This shows that our united voice can make a difference.”

His celebration was shared by state officials from around the country.

This proposal was quietly introduced. Many other proposals that threaten the use of public lands and recreation don’t seem to be getting the national attention they deserve.  But as Ben Burr said, we can make our voices heard. So, we’ll continue to stay on top of this with the BlueRibbon Coalition. If you haven’t already, consider making a donation to BRC for their efforts— and be sure to make your voice heard during all of the public comment windows.

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