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

This past Saturday, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed two sweeping climate disclosure bills into law as had been expected: SB253 – the Climate Corporate Data Accountability Act (see a summary here) and SB261 – Greenhouse gases: climate-related financial risk (see a summary here).

In almost identical letters to the state Senate announcing his action on SB253 and SB261, Newsom indicated that he has two significant concerns with the new law:

“… the implementation deadlines in this bill are likely infeasible, and the reporting protocol specified could result in inconsistent reporting across businesses subject to the measure. [Ed. note: Newsom’s comment about the reporting protocol was omitted in the letter on SB261]

Additionally, I am concerned about the overall financial impact of this bill on businesses, so I am instructing CARB [California Air Resources Board] to closely monitor the cost impact as it implements this new bill and to make recommendations to streamline the program.”

SB253 requires regulations to be developed and implemented by CARB, while SB261 is self-implementing with the first report due January 1, 2026. The concerns expressed by Newsom will likely be part of any legal challenge against the new laws. A lawsuit would also impact potential timing of the requirements as courts stay challenged language in situations like this until the suit(s) is/are resolved. The new laws could have an impact on the SEC’s climate disclosure as SEC Chair Gary Gensler hinted at two weeks ago. It’s going to be interesting to see how all the moving parts play out. We’re definitely tracking this from the legal, accounting, assurance and technical perspectives for you.

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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