Although the short 21-day comment period for the proposed SEC rule creating Natural Asset Companies (NACs) closed October 25th, the Garfield County, Colorado Board of Commissioners registered their opposition to NACs in a letter to the SEC prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. They expose the detrimental effect the proposal would have on their citizens, county, and local economy.
The proposed rule states federal lands can be enrolled into a NAC. Garfield County encompasses approximately 3,000 square miles with nearly 62 percent of their lands owned by the federal government.
These lands are crucial to the County’s socio-economic well-being, health, safety, welfare, and culture. The County argues that listing their federal lands into a NAC would require the land to be managed for “sustainable” purposes and eliminate the productive uses. These productive uses support their local economy by funding their schools, hospitals, emergency services, roads, utilities, and other necessary services.
Garfield County claims the sustainability requirements will be counter to the federal policies of multiple-use and sustained yield that benefit the public. NACs can only allow “replenishable” resource uses, eliminating mining, oil and gas production and other industries.
The County argues that these and other impacts have not been considered and that NACs will allow investors to profit off their federal lands at the expense of the citizens and the county.
Another major issue raised is the management authority the SEC NAC rule will convey to a third-party entity, infringing on the County’s right to “coordinate” the management of the federal lands with the federal agency.
The County also makes a compelling argument that the rule directly challenges their authority to govern the County as delegated by the Constitution of the State of Colorado. NACs are required to meet specific sustainability goals that will be pushed on the communities within NAC boundaries. These goals will directly conflict with the policies, objectives and authorities of local governments who have political jurisdiction over the area. There is no discussion in the proposed rule as to how the conflict will be resolved.
Instead, the rule authorizes NACs to spend some of the investment funds in the communities to help implement the sustainability policies.
Garfield County also argues that the people who live in the area enrolled in a NAC should have a direct vote as should their Congressional delegates before being unwillingly listed into a private investment company’s asset base.
Garfield County opposes the proposed rule for these and many other reasons. They end by stating: “When are our public lands no longer public? The Proposed Rule is another step in the privatization of public lands.”
Read Garfield County’s comments here: https://www.sec.gov/comments/sr-nyse-2023-09/srnyse202309-302759-779062.pdf