The acting chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has created a new senior policy advisor position on climate change and ESG, another signal the agency will prioritize both areas under a Biden administration.
Allison Herren Lee on Monday named Satyam Khanna, an attorney who was a member of the Biden transition team that reviewed banking and securities regulators, to the new post, according to a press release. Khanna was most recently a resident fellow at NYU School of Law’s Institute for Corporate Governance and Finance and served at the SEC as a member of then-Commissioner Robert Jackson Jr.’s staff.
“Having a dedicated advisor on these issues will allow us to look broadly at how they intersect with our regulatory framework across our offices and divisions,” Lee said in the press release. “Satyam’s experience, insight, and resourcefulness will help ensure our efforts in this space are thoughtful and effective.”
The move is more evidence the SEC under a Biden administration will place new emphasis on how companies should measure and disclose climate change risks, as well as issues surrounding environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG).
These priorities will translate into the SEC issuing ESG and climate change-related risk alerts, guidance, and rulemaking that will likely require companies to disclose how these risks affect their bottom line, experts have said.
Lee, a Democrat, was named acting chair of the SEC less than two weeks ago. The Commission is currently evenly split, with two seats held by Democrats and two held by Republicans.
Former Chair Jay Clayton, nominally an Independent but someone who was closely linked to former President Donald Trump, left the SEC in December. President Joe Biden has nominated Gary Gensler, an MIT professor who led the Commodity Futures Trading Commission from 2009-14, to replace Clayton.
Gensler’s nomination must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. At the moment, his hearing before a Senate committee has not been scheduled and will likely have to wait until after the conclusion of Trump’s impeachment trial, which is set to begin Feb. 8.
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New SEC senior advisor will specialize in climate change, ESG