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Utah leaders object to 'environmental, social, governance' ranking system

Governor Cox
Posted at 1:31 PM, Apr 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-21 17:25:23-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah political leaders are blasting a new ranking system being used by a financial analytics company that includes the state's environmental and social track record.

In a letter to S&P Global, Governor Spencer Cox, State Treasurer Marlo Oaks, State Auditor John Dougall, Attorney General Sean Reyes and the state's entire congressional delegation criticized the company's use of "ESG indicators." The "environmental, social and governance" indicators include things like climate change efforts and human rights stances, in addition to financial standings.

"Considering recent global events, the current economic situation in the U.S., and the unreliability and inherently political nature of ESG factors in investment decisions, we view this newfound focus on ESG as politicizing the ratings process," the letter said. "It is deeply counterproductive, misleading, potentially damaging to the entities being rated, and possibly illegal."

While acknowledging that Utah falls in line with most states on the ESG criteria, Gov. Cox was still critical of it being used at all.

"We're incorporating other metrics that are not black and white and are very subjective into these ratings. It’s just an incredibly dangerous road to go down. I think it’s wrong. I think it’s a mistake," he told reporters at his monthly news conference on PBS Utah.

The letter said that Utah will not participate in the collection of data for the report.

S&P Global did not have a comment on the letter when contacted by FOX 13 News on Thursday. On its website, the firm said "investors are demanding transparency" as a reason to incorporate them into ratings.

In a sign that Utah political leaders will actively oppose ESG indicators, the state legislature's powerful Legislative Management Committee voted to place the topic as a priority study item in the interim session.

Read the letter to S&P Global here: