Photo by Chris Coons on Flickr is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0:

If passed, the PROVE IT Act would serve as another tool for enforcing the radical ESG agenda pursued by President Biden, congressional Democrats, and leftwing activist groups.

S. 1863, the PROVE IT Act, was introduced in August 2023 by a group of nine senators led by Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.). According to news reports, a House version of the bill is also being prepared for introduction by Congressman John Curtis (R-Utah) and Congressman Scott Peters (D-Calif.).

The PROVE IT Act would empower Biden’s Energy Secretary to conduct a taxpayer-funded study on the “carbon emissions intensity” of a number of product categories, ranging from oil and natural gas to aluminum, solar panels, and critical minerals. 

Americans for Tax Reform joined a coalition of more than 40 conservative organizations in a letter to members of Congress, urging them to oppose S. 1863, the PROVE IT Act. ATR urges all members of Congress to oppose this bill.

Government-Run Carbon Database for Products

The PROVE IT Act requires the Department of Energy to create a public database of the average carbon emissions for each product category produced in the United States and for those produced in an undefined number of foreign countries.

The Energy Secretary is empowered to include any country that “holds more than a de minimis share the global market share” and “any other country that the Secretary determines to be appropriate,” which means that the law could target international trade with every country, not just bad actors as claimed by the bill’s proponents.

Much has already been written about the fact that the PROVE IT Act’s true intent is not merely to conduct a study, but rather to lay the groundwork for a future carbon tax and carbon tariffs. This would result in direct harm to American families in the form of higher energy prices, greater inflation on affected products, and lower availability of key materials both for consumption and for use in the production of final goods.

Taxpayer-Funded ESG Activism

The PROVE IT Act would also further the broader ESG agenda being forced on U.S. businesses and consumers.

Environmental activist groups and government agencies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), would like nothing more than to collect and publish data on the carbon emissions of various producers to harass and intimidate businesses. The PROVE IT Act would use the man-hours of government workers to do their dirty work for them, all on the taxpayer dime. It’s unthinkable that the data produced by this study wouldn’t make its way into ESG scores and influence which types of companies are included in ESG funds, further moving investment priorities away from financial returns and fiduciary duty. Taxpayer funds should not be used in pursuit of this partisan political agenda.

Moreover, the production of this study by the government serves as a tacit threat to investors: The industries and companies named-and-shamed by the report will represent a primary target list for bureaucrats once they are given the power to tax carbon emissions or issue further climate regulations. Even before Congress approves carbon taxes or tariffs, regulators are seeking to discourage investment in “carbon intensive” industries, regardless of their essentiality to U.S. prosperity.

Republicans should not fall for the Democrats’ latest scheme to foist their ESG agenda onto the American people. No Republican should cosponsor the PROVE IT Act.