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Press Release

Westerman Responds to NYSE's About Face, Decision to Withdraw NAC Rule Proposal

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 17, 2024 | Committee Press Office (202-225-2761)
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Today, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced a notice of withdrawal of the proposed rule change that would have allowed the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) to list Natural Asset Companies (NACs). House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) issued the following statement in response:

"Today is a victory for Americans as our public lands stay firmly in the hands of our citizens. After committee Republicans raised the alarm on this issue, we're relieved to see the New York Stock Exchange come to its senses and withdraw its own proposed rule change. Allowing foreign interests to fund companies that would lock up America's most precious assets should never have been considered, and today we can breathe at least a momentary sigh of relief. I'd like to recognize members of this committee who contributed important work on this issue and helped bring it to light. For now, America's public lands remain available to all Americans, not to foreign shareholders. The committee will continue its diligent oversight of any attempts to lock up America's public lands."

Background 

The committee has been investigating the concerning consequences this rule would have had on America's public lands, including allowing foreign actors to control our land policies. Last week, Westerman and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairman Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) led a letter to SEC Chair Gary Gensler and Director Haoxiang Zhu, seeking information on the proposed rule.

On October 4, 2023, the SEC published notice of a proposed rule change to allow the NYSE to list NACs, a new type of public company that would hold rights over prescribed areas such as national parks, federal lands, and private land. However, unlike other companies that are created to provide services or produce items of value, a NAC is "a corporation whose primary purpose is to actively manage, maintain, restore (as applicable), and grow the value of natural assets and their production of ecosystem services."

In short, NACs would obtain rights to U.S. land and could then prevent that land from being used for the production of natural resources, including fossil fuel development, mining, most logging and large-scale farming, all of which are specifically prohibited by NACs under the current proposal. Hence, NACs would allow shareholders, including foreign interests, to buy shares of companies whose express purpose is to lock up land and prevent productive natural resource development, particularly on America‚Äôs national parks and public lands.

Following the committee's oversight letter, the SEC today announced a notice of withdrawal of the proposed rule change.