US Republican lawmakers issued a warning to corporate law firms this week, opening a new front in a campaign against companies forming a new consensus on major issues such as climate change.
In letters dated Thursday to 51 large US and global law firms, US Senate Republicans Tom Cotton, Mike Lee, Chuck Grassley, Marsha Blackburn and Marco Rubio said they plan to use their congressional oversight powers “to scrutinize the institutionalized antitrust violations being committed in the name of ESG,” referring to environmental, social and governance issues.
The senators cited a “collusive effort to restrict the supply of coal, oil, and gas, which is driving up energy costs across the globe and empowering America’s adversaries abroad.” They said Congress would refer anticompetitive actions made in the name of ESG to federal antitrust authorities and told the firms they have a duty to inform clients of such regulatory risks.
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“To the extent that your firm continues to advise clients regarding participation in ESG initiatives, both you and those clients should take care to preserve relevant documents in anticipation of those investigations,” the letters said.
The letters were addressed to top partners and ESG practice leaders at many of the world’s largest and most powerful law firms, including firms that regularly represent major energy and financial companies.
Representatives for several of the firms–including Kirkland & Ellis; Latham & Watkins; Morgan, Lewis & Bockius; Paul Hastings; Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison; Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom; and Winston & Strawn–did not immediately respond to requests for comment.