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Keeping you in-the-know on environmental, social and governance developments

How’s this for a quote of the day:

“I’m pretty sure it’s going to be rife with fraud. There will be a lot of companies saying they’re doing things that they’re not doing just to get some of that money” – a fraud specialist shared with Responsible Investor their concerns about the US Inflation Reduction Act might attract.

I pulled that quote from a news roundup and opinion email from Responsible Investor last week. It of course is referencing the $500 billion in federal spending, grants and tax breaks contained in the federal Inflation Reduction Act which is the most significant climate legislation in US history.

Then last Friday, the US Department of Energy announced it is granting “up to $1.2 billion to advance the development of two commercial-scale direct air capture facilities in Texas and Louisiana.” The spending is underway.

Which is good, but there is a dark side to this as well. Whenever this much money is thrown around, it attracts fraud. New climate technology companies may come out of the woodwork selling themselves and products/services to the federal government, other companies and even consumers. Some of these are legitimate and are based on science, even if they face valid questions about scaling and efficacy. But others – well, not so much.

If you are evaluating buying into or investing in new climate technology, remember to conduct thorough due diligence that includes scientific analysis, not only a business analysis. Just because a climate tech company receives federal funding or has corporate customers, that isn’t a reason to get too comfortable before buying in/committing anything. Keep Enron in mind here – if it doesn’t seem to make basic sense, or if the technology or business proposition can’t be explained simply or clearly – don’t immediately assume that means they are smarter than you. In reality, you might be better off considering that as a red flag in itself.

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The Editor

Lawrence Heim has been practicing in the field of ESG management for almost 40 years. He began his career as a legal assistant in the Environmental Practice of Vinson & Elkins working for a partner who is nationally recognized and an adjunct professor of environmental law at the University of Texas Law School. He moved into technical environmental consulting with ENSR Consulting & Engineering at the height of environmental regulatory development, working across a range of disciplines. He was one… View Profile