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  • Feds to Slaughter Meat Industry with Its Greenwashing Claims

Feds to Slaughter Meat Industry with Its Greenwashing Claims

William L. Kovacs

April 2024

Feds to Slaughter Meat Industry with Its Greenwashing Claims

Our largest corporations foolishly relish greenwashing the products they sell to Americans. “[G]reenwashing…unsubstantiated claim[s] to deceive consumers into believing that a company’s products are environmentally friendly…” Since there has been little risk of liability for making such claims, corporations vigorously worked to ingratiate themselves with the government and its environmental collaborators in hope of securing government benefits and protection from environmental advocates. Now government and environmental groups will use corporate greenwashing claims against industry. The fossil fuel industry was the first target, meat is the second.

The federal government and its paid environmental activists are rolling out a scheme to combat climate change by telling Americans to “eat no meat, it is destroying the earth.” These environmental activists argue that by banning all animal agriculture in 15 years, greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by 68%. This reduction will “pause the rise of greenhouse gases warming the planet until 2060.”

The federal government and the environmental community are launching a multi-front attack, that if successful, will destroy the industry.

On March 6, 2024, the Federal Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) finalized its 875-page rule to “Enhance and Standardize Climate-Related Disclosures for Investors.” While the rule has an effective date of May 28, 2024 the SEC agreed to pause the effective date until final court review. Industry views the pause as a sign the SEC fears court review. The pause, however, is a brilliant legal strategy that avoids years of litigation over dozens of procedural delay motions. The pause lets the court address the validity of the rule immediately.

The SEC rule requires publicly traded companies, called “registrants,” to provide standardized climate-related information in all reported materials, including how they will address severe weather-related events. Corporations will also have to report (guess) how they will address future changes in government climate policies and report all climate-related spending and mitigation efforts to comply with future government regulations.

The several hundred corporations promising to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from human activity by 2040 should be very worried. Corporations will have to state their climate-related targets and the actions they will take to meet those targets. Essentially, all environmental claims must be supported by actions sufficient to achieve the reported goal, or the corporation will be subject to liability. About 90% of companies in the Russell 1000 Index are captured by this regulation.

The meat and dairy industries are now the tip of the spear.

The meat and dairy industries have been criticized for greenwashing their environmental commitments for years. Environmental groups highlight the hypocrisy of an industry that claims it will achieve net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases by 2040 while planning massive increases of cattle to meet worldwide demand for meat. The environmentalists are targeting the world’s largest meat factories: JBS, Tyson, Danish Crown, Nestle, Danone, Arla, and Fonterra.

Environmental activists point out that the emissions from the top five meat and dairy companies combined exceed those of Exxon, Shell, and BP. These cattle companies used the “net-zero promises” to promote their “greenness” while increasing their greenhouse emissions. The SEC rule and environmentalists have called the meat industry’s greenwashing bluff.

Progressive states will help the SEC achieve enforcement.

Every failure to meet an environmental promise will likely subject companies to liability. Governments and environmental activists will file lawsuits for greenwashing deceit using the information the meat industry provides the SEC. Even specious lawsuits are expensive to defend.

Already, New York has used Executive Law Section 63(12) against one of the world’s largest meatpackers for fraudulent environmental claims.

New York alleges that the meatpacker deceived consumers and seeks $5,000 a day for each violation. Will the judgement sought be based the harm caused by the meatpacker’s actions, or the number of people eating meat? Think of the $454 million judgment against Trump rendered under the same law without any proof of harm or accepted method of calculating harm.

Bring in the class action lawyers.

Until the SEC rule, it was difficult to establish that raising cattle harmed the planet. Linking corporate actions to climate harm is an almost impossible task. With the SEC rule, proof of causation (cattle cause climate change) is unnecessary. All that is needed to establish liability under the SEC regulation, or the New York law, is proof the meat producer failed to meet its environmental commitments. The SEC will provide state attorneys general and class action lawyers with all the information needed on a silver platter. Securing liability will be as simple as “Environmental promise made; environmental promise broken.” Proof of environmental harm is irrelevant.

There is a long-list of class action law-suits costing industry hundreds of billions in damages, e.g.; Asbestos, Round-Up, Tobacco. Almost 325 million Americans eat meat. What is the value of that lawsuit?

EPA jumps on the attack beef crusade.

In December 2023 the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) entered into a “Sue and Settle agreement” with environmental groups to secretly require the meat industry “to spend whatever cost is necessary to meet effluent limits regardless of the benefits to water quality.” The meat industry was precluded from a settlement in which the EPA accepted as fact a non-peered review study by the environmental group suing the agency. Moreover, the industry did not see EPA’s proposed rule until it was publicly released in early 2024. “EPA quotes the study more than 20 times in the proposed rule…” Moreover, by limiting the industry to a 60-day review period, the meat industry will not have sufficient time to analyze the validity of the data used to justify the rule. How much government regulation and litigation can the meat industry take and remain in business?

How it all ends.

Corporations need to make products they are proud to sell and people want. When corporations advertise their products and operations as something they are not, they open themselves to attack. Corporations must appreciate that environmental activists and government regulators are not their allies, no matter how much a corporation promises to “save the planet.” Environmental activists seek to eliminate humans from the earth; just read their own words. To achieve this goal, they must first eliminate the products and foods humans need to survive. Once corporations appreciate this reality, they will be better able to justify that their products are a benefit to people by producing a comfortable life.

Greenwashing claims give government and environmental advocates the excuse needed to take industry’s products off the market.

William L. Kovacs author of Devolution of Power: Rolling Back the Federal State to Preserve the Republic. His previous book Reform the Kakistocracy received the 2021 Independent Press Award for Political/Social Change. He served as senior vice president for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and chief counsel to a congressional committee. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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  • A New York Reign of Terror on Corporations

A New York Reign of Terror on Corporations

William L.Kovacs

March 2024

A New York Reign of Terror on Corporations

The mainstream media and the Progressive Left rejoice over New York securing a 464-million-dollar judgment against former President Trump, his inability to secure an appeal bond from an insurance company due to paralyzing fear of government retaliation, and the likelihood of Attorney General Letitia James (“AG James”) seizing his property. These actions are not part of a rule-of-law legal system. They are de facto corporate executions. Businesses in New York should be terrified as it is the beginning of a New York Reign of Terror against corporations.

The most studied Reign of Terror was also state-sanctioned violence during the French Revolution, 1789-99. “[G]overnment decided to make ‘Terror’ the order of the day to take harsh measures against those suspected of being enemies of the Revolution.” To the state of New York and its media propagandists, no person is a greater enemy of their “Revolution” than Donald Trump. The revocation of a license to operate is the equivalent of a corporate execution. As in the French Revolution, Trump received a fake trial with few due process rights. Conviction was inevitable. AG James’ actions are right out of Robespierre’s playbook.

Unfortunately, for a Reign of Terror to be successful, it must execute all enemies of the Revolution. Let the executions begin.

The Guillotine is New York Executive Law section 63(12). AG James is the executioner of anyone who engages in what she believes is a fraudulent or illegal act while conducting or transacting business in New York. In New York, fraud includes any scheme to defraud, any deceive, misrepresent, conceal, suppress, make false promises, or unconscionable contractual provisions. There is no requirement of harm. This law is so broad that almost every word, contract, advertisement, action, or business transaction in New York can be construed as fraud by the AG.

Moreover, it applies to all environmental marketing claims, even truthful ones that a consumer may not understand. In New York, a corporation is mandated to understand how a consumer would interpret an environmental marketing claim and ensure the claim does not give consumers a false impression.

Upon conviction, without a jury trial, the punishment is restitution, damages, and the cancellation of a business license. The damage award under the statute is whatever AG James seeks or so much as the court deems proper. Hence, the Attorney General and judge believed the $464 million judgment against Trump was proper justice.

All corporations making environmental claims are the new enemies of the Revolution. As the Trump trial was nearing completion, AG James, using the same law, filed a lawsuit against one of the world’s largest meatpackers for fraudulent environmental claims. The meat producer claimed to reach net-zero climate emissions by 2040. AG James believed the net-zero commitment was a fraudulent representation because the amount of carbon emissions from meat production is more than the plan can eliminate. Alleging that the meatpacker deceived consumers, New York seeks $5,000 a day for each violation, which could be related to every consumer the state believes was deceived. New York is also seeking to recoup all profits made from the claims, which are likely to be all of the corporation’s profits.

The federal and state governments will force corporations to confess their crimes. While the New York Attorney General will be unable to gather the needed information to convict the tens of thousands of corporations operating in New York of fraud, the federal government will provide the Attorney General with the corporate environmental claims she can use to allege fraud for almost any reason. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (“SEC”) recent rule requiring detailed corporate disclosures of all climate-related risks will be in the form of a coerced confession. The SEC requires companies to report on all climate-related spending and mitigation efforts to comply with almost 900 pages of government regulations. Additionally, these corporations must disclose their environmental promises. Corporations will even have to report (guess) how they will deal with all future government climate policies. Any disclosure that appears inadequate to AG James will open the corporations to lawsuits.

AG James will figuratively receive briefing books from the SEC on all the environmental promises made by corporations. She can then pick and choose who to file fraud charges against. Every failure to meet an environmental promise could subject a company to prosecution under Executive Law section 63(12). For proof, corporations only need to look at the actions taken against the meatpacker based solely on the fact that AG James does not believe its net-zero plan will work.

The list of New York corporate fraudsters is long and growing. In addition to the SEC’s confession file, over 200 companies, most with operations in New York collectively pledged to mitigate 1.98 billion metric tons of carbon emissions annually by 2040 from a 2020 baseline. These companies are some of the biggest in the world:  Amazon, Procter & Gamble, HP, Salesforce, Mohawk Group, and Crown Holdings.

The meatpacker made similar promises, but the attorney general considered its plan fraudulent without presenting sufficient facts to discredit it. Every one of these 200-plus corporations can expect government persecution and prosecution should they disagree with the New York or federal governments or disgruntled environmental groups. As to New York,

                                       Start spreading the news; the AG is coming today,

                                       A reign of corporate terror is on its way,

                                       To rip out our businesses, New York, New York.

 

William L. Kovacs author of Devolution of Power: Rolling Back the Federal State to Preserve the Republic. His previous book Reform the Kakistocracy received the 2021 Independent Press Award for Political/Social Change. He served as senior vice president for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and chief counsel to a congressional committee. He can be contacted at [email protected]