GOP Senators: Financial Regulators Should Cool Climate Change Rhetoric
Credit unions are among the institutions senators claim may be discouraged from lending to agribusinesses.
A group of Republican senators is accusing Biden Administration financial regulators of promoting radical environmental policies that could restrict credit to farmers and ranchers.
“Many of your administration’s appointees have sought to promote unrealistic and radical environmental restrictions by encouraging certain financial institutions to choke off legitimate industries’ access to capital under the guise of mitigating environmental risks,” the 11 senators wrote in a letter to President Biden.
How Could Credit Unions Be Impacted?
The senators acknowledged the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) had changed its strategic plan to soften language they say suggested credit unions with large concentrations of members in agriculture-related businesses diversify their fields of membership.
Still, the senators warned certain measures could result in decreased lending to farmers.
“Actions taken by some in your administration, accompanied by activists’ broader narrative on environmental issues, are undoubtedly already leading to reduced lending to certain sectors, such as fossil fuels,” they wrote. “We are concerned that this push may eventually directly or indirectly discourage banks and credit unions from lending to farmers, ranchers, and other agribusinesses.”
The group urged Biden to change his administration’s rhetoric and “halt its efforts to force its misguided environmental agenda upon banks, credit unions and other businesses across this country.”
The NCUA is an independent agency and the President has limited control over its policies.
Where the NCUA Stands on Climate Change
NCUA Chairman Todd Harper, a Democrat, has supported attempts by financial regulators to encourage credit unions and banks to consider the impact climate change may have on their businesses. However, the board currently has two Republican members, Rodney Hood and Kyle Hauptman, both of whom have made it clear they oppose those efforts. Harper is the lone Democrat on the board.
When the NCUA adopted its 2022–2026 strategic plan last month, board members went to great pains to emphasize the agency will not micromanage how credit unions consider the impact of climate change.
The board also agreed to publish a formal request for information seeking input from credit union stakeholders about climate-related financial risks.
Republican senators signing the letter were John Thune of South Dakota, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Richard Burr of North Carolina, John Cornyn of Texas, Ted Cruz of Texas, Deb Fischer of Nebraska, Josh Hawley of Missouri, John Hoeven of North Dakota, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Mike Rounds of South Dakota and Marco Rubio of Florida.