State AGs Targeting Treasury Department’s New Net-Zero Rule

Republican attorneys general are criticizing the U.S. Treasury Department’s recent implementation of “Principles for Net-Zero Financing & Investment,” labeling it as part of the green agenda and a potential legal concern. The attorneys general are probing net-zero alliances in key economic sectors like asset management, banking, insurance, and financial services for antitrust violations and are likely to file complaints within the year.

The Treasury published these principles last week, describing them as voluntary and designed to outline best practices for private sector financial institutions that have pledged to achieve net-zero. However, Republican legal officials argue that these principles are not truly voluntary but rather enforced by a green agenda.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and her department maintain that the use of these principles is optional, and they are not standards. They acknowledge that significant changes and improvements in climate science and climate-related strategy and risk management will affect the relevance and efficacy of the resources cited in the principles over time.

Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, however, disputes this, stating that just because something is declared voluntary doesn’t make it so. He believes the pressure seen within the financial sector on ESG (environmental, social, and governance) is a clear constraint on trade and manipulation of markets, and that these principles challenge the legal system and lack standing.

The attorneys general have previously warned the Biden administration that their prioritization of ESG could be unlawful. They caution insurance companies that pressuring customers to rapidly reduce their emissions and other efforts to promote a climate activism agenda could violate antitrust law.

The Treasury Department argues that with these principles, they are supporting the mobilization of more private sector capital to address the physical and economic impacts of climate change and seize the opportunity presented by the green transition.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes argues that the administration cannot bypass legislative and regulatory processes and still protect the Net-Zero cartels from antitrust scrutiny. He believes the pressure of ESG and Net-Zero mandates across the financial sector is a constraint on trade and manipulation of markets.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall argues that this issue isn’t about climate or consumers but about cronyism. He pledges to continue exposing this alleged racket for what it is.

Photo by Mark Warner, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.

Jack McPherrin ([email protected]) is a managing editor of, research editor for The Heartland Institute, and a research fellow for Heartland's Socialism Research Center. He holds an MA in International Affairs from Loyola University-Chicago, and a dual BA in Economics and History from Boston College.