Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson

MOHAVE COUNTY – At their last board meeting, the Mohave County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a letter of opposition regarding a proposed rule by the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) that would authorize the listing of “Natural Asset Companies” (NACs) as a novel investment vehicle on the New York Stock Exchange. Supervisor Buster Johnson brought the item forward for the Board’s consideration after digging deeper into what this proposed rule meant. “This rule raises many concerns, particularly for federal lands, including those in Mohave County. The implementation of this rule would enable these lands to be enrolled in NACs which would basically necessitate their management for “sustainable” purposes,” Johnson stated. “The rule attempts to profit from and control essential elements, such as the air we breathe, by protecting resources and increasing ecosystem services, providing value to NACs and returns to shareholders.”

In Mohave County, about 83% of the available land is categorized as federal public lands.  According to Johnson, the economic well-being of Mohave County is intricately linked to the utilization and management of these surrounding federal lands and their corresponding policies. “It is imperative to ensure that the management of these public lands aligns with Mohave County’s policies, given that 83% of the county’s land is federally owned. The utilization of these public lands plays a pivotal role in the economic aspects of the county and the welfare of its residents,” Johnson said.

Currently, Congress mandates local government coordination to ensure that federal actions do not adversely affect local communities. “The SEC rule lacks clarity on how local, state, and federal land use plans will be coordinated with NACs and how priorities will be coordinated, as currently required,” Johnson stated. Johnson claims there is no explanation listed in the rule to show how one administrative agency can carry resource management. There is also a lack of constraint with this management authority from the rule. “This runs the risk of becoming a blanket permission to give investors the power to make rules and definitions, as well as dictate permissions and penalties. It appears that the SEC has overstepped its authority, imposing on that of federal agencies and numerous states and local governments, by transferring the management of federal lands to private investment companies,” Johnson explained.

According to literature from the SEC, the proposed rule asserts that the new natural asset economy will be a $500 trillion economy, four times larger than today’s $105 trillion economy. This is attributed to the creation of a new set of values, quantifying and monetizing “natural processes” and “ecosystem services” necessary for human survival. Furthermore, the proposal permits foreign entities to leverage NACs to undermine national security and American foreign policy. Sovereign nations, like the United States Government, can offer lands to private investors, potentially allowing countries like China to invest in NACs and become stakeholders in national parks. “This could enable Russia to gain control over lands currently leased for oil production and uranium mining, restricting future natural resource development, and posing an overall threat to our national security,” Johnson explained.

Johnson fears, if approved, NACs would enable investors to profit from our federal lands at the expense of citizens and the county. “The impact and costs this would have on Mohave County has not been considered and assessed.  This proposal is detrimental to this county in many ways, and the SEC should not only abstain from adopting it, but actions should also be considered to prevent NACs from being any part of eligibility to be on the NYSE.”