To Sean Reyes, Utah’s attorney general, E.S.G. was “an open conspiracy to bypass Congress and instead impose costly changes on American consumers,” driven by unelected financial institutions like BlackRock that have pushed to include climate concerns in many investment decisions.
His Alabama counterpart, Steve Marshall, argued that focusing on E.S.G. led to higher energy prices because it discourages the use of cheaper fossil fuels, risking harm to key industries like farming.
Democrats defended E.S.G. as just another investment strategy. Calling opposition to the concept a “widespread, highly coordinated, politically motivated attack” on investors and average Americans, the Illinois state treasurer, Michael Frerichs, said that E.S.G. was simply a different way of weighing risks and opportunities.
It meant that an investor could weigh whether a carmaker was prepared for a market shift to electric cars, or whether to buy into a drugmaker facing a flurry of lawsuits over its role in the opioid epidemic, he said.
Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland, said that asset and pension managers weighing E.S.G. angles to investments were simply being smart — and to not think about those angles was “a negligent and inattentive investment strategy.”