8th Circuit Wins SEC Climate Rule Litigation Lottery

FILE - The seal of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission at SEC headquarters, June 19, 2015, in Washington. The SEC adopted rules Wednesday, July 26, 2023, to require public companies to disclose within four days all cybersecurity breaches that could affect their bottom lines. Delays will be permitted if immediate disclosure poses serious national security or public safety risks. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

In a dramatic turn of events, the battleground for the legal showdown against the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) groundbreaking climate disclosure rules has been revealed. The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation has ordered that the consolidated cases will unfold in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, following a request by the agency for a random draw.

8th Circuit Wins SEC Climate Rule Litigation Lottery : Consolidation of Contention

Thursday’s order marks a pivotal moment in the legal saga surrounding the SEC’s climate disclosure rules. The rules, which have sparked intense debate and opposition from various quarters including state attorneys general, energy industry stakeholders, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Sierra Club, now face a unified challenge. The consolidation brings together nine cases from an initial spread across six appellate courts, all contesting the SEC’s mandate for emissions reporting and disclosure of climate-related risks.

Stalled Momentum

The SEC’s mandate, adopted just weeks ago, mandates emissions reporting for certain publicly traded companies and requires disclosure of climate-related risks such as extreme weather events. However, the enforcement of these measures hit a roadblock when the Fifth Circuit issued a terse order last week, temporarily halting the SEC from implementing the rules.

8th Circuit Wins SEC Climate Rule Litigation Lottery : Random Twist of Fate

The SEC’s move to consolidate the cases came on Tuesday, invoking the rules that delegated the selection of the circuit court to the MDL panel’s clerk through a random draw. The spotlight now falls on the Eighth Circuit, where the Iowa Attorney General’s Office leads the charge. However, neither the Iowa Attorney General’s Office nor the SEC offered immediate comments following Thursday’s order.

Legal Gladiators Unveiled

In this legal clash of titans, Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird’s team is led by Solicitor General Eric H. Wessan and Deputy Solicitor General Patrick Valencia. On the opposing side, the SEC stands represented by an in-house ensemble comprising John Rady, Megan Barbero, Michael Conley, Tracey Hardin, and Daniel Staroselsky.