John Hale has an excellent analysis of the comments on DOL/EBSA’s proposed rule on ESG, with a run-down of the consistent themes: no evidence to support the need for a rule and lots of evidence against.
Of 229 comments from investment professionals, 94% were opposed to the proposed rule, only 2% were in favor, and 4% were mixed or neutral. Not a single comment in support of the proposal was received from investor associations, pension plans, or asset owners. Asset managers were nearly unanimous in their opposition, with only one out of 86 comments in favor. Opposing comments came not only from asset managers focused on ESG investing but also from many large conventional asset managers, including BlackRock, Fidelity, State Street Global Advisors, T. Rowe Price, and Vanguard. The single supportive comment came from a small exchange-traded fund firm called Vident Financial. Financial service providers, including Morningstar, opposed the rule 24 to 2, with one mixed/neutral comment. Similarly, financial advisors voiced strong opposition, with 44 of 46 commenters opposing the rule. It is also likely that many more financial advisors were among the more than 8,000 individuals who registered their opposition. Nearly all of the supportive comments on the rule came from outside the investment industry, focused among conservative trade associations and policy advocacy groups, including the American Conservative Union, American Legislative Exchange Council, National Association of Manufacturers, National Taxpayers Union, National Shooting Sports Foundation, and the Western Energy Alliance. Even among trade and policy advocacy organizations generally, more comments opposed the proposed rule than supported it. Examples include the American Bankers Association, American Council on Renewable Energy, Center for American Progress, Citizens Climate Lobby, Public Citizen, and the Sierra Club.Sustainability Matters: Overwhelming Opposition to Proposed Regulation Limiting the Use of ESG in Retirement Plans | Morningstar