June 16, 2022 — Sage President Bob Smith and Sr. Research Analyst Andy Poreda discuss the top ESG news stories of the week. Included in this week’s Top 5 are new U.S. solar initiatives, the continued crackdown on greenwashing, and ESG options in retirement plans. To read Andy’s commentary, click here.
President & Chief Investment Officer
ESG Research Analyst
Bob Smith: Good day everyone. This is Bob Smith, President of Sage Advisory, and I have with me today Andy Poreda, who is one of our Senior Research Analysts at Sage and who writes our bi-weekly ESG Top 5. How're you doing today, Andy?
Andy Poreda: I'm doing great, Bob. How are you doing? Just fun here dealing with this Saharan dust plume that's hitting Austin. Never would have thought that in a million years, but hanging in there.
Bob Smith: Yeah, we're basking in the glory. And the warm embrace of climate change here in Austin. Gone through a week of triple digit, you know, heat wave and Lord knows what the rest of the summer is going to be about. I'm sure that the guys at ERCOT have fixed everything that they had to fix after last year's Winter Storm Uri. So I know there have been warnings of brownouts and blackouts, and so forth across the country. I just hope that we don't have to suffer too many of them as we're going through this tremendous heatwave. So Andy, let me talk to you about the first story that we've got in The ESG 5 this week. And that is Biden orders emergency steps to boost U.S. solar production. Obviously, the green power initiative is very large within the heart of the Biden Administration, solar power was expected to play a very large part in its kind of clean energy transition efforts. And it continues to do so. And so you know, in the last couple of weeks here, they've made a couple of major moves to kind of promote the growth and the development of solar panels, supposedly, for us here in the United States to benefit from all of that. But it seems to me that there's been a contradiction to some degree, because it's likely to support and help people, the producers in China, and perhaps select Southeastern countries that China operates through. And I find this to be a little bit disingenuous in terms of the Biden Administration. And since China already controls perhaps 90%, as much as 95% of the world production of solar panels, giving more business and approving more business to a monopolistic authoritarian government doesn't seem to be very ESG and seems to deprive U.S. manufacturers of almost any opportunity to really seriously compete, and presents more of a problem than an opportunity. So how do we come out on this?
Andy Poreda: Well, great context, Bob. I think this is a very important issue, because I think when we try to think about our clean energy economy, I think most pundits would argue that solar power is going to play a huge factor as we electrify our economy as well as trying to retire some of our older fossil fuel power sources. But how we get there along the journey, I think is just as important as the end state. As it stands now, as you mentioned, I think it's very problematic that the U.S. has really no inherent manufacturing capability to make solar panels on our own. Really, it's the industry that we're talking about with these tariffs we're helping out, it's really the solar installation side of things. And I think if we look at the production, this is not just a one-step process to make a solar panel; it's multi-step, as you alluded to. And this is really something that we have to consider each step along the way, whether it's sourcing the polysilicon, that's kind of the first step, as well as some of the rare earth metals that are needed. All these factors are all reliant on other countries, most notably China. And so I think we have to look at this is, is this is energy a national security issue, as you alluded to? I think it is. I think most people would agree that it is, and we are not taking the steps which China has done for decades and creating a supply chain that is resilient, and controlled in-house. And so I think that's where we really need to look at. And so I get how the Biden Administration was dealing with – what basically happened is, is this situation where a U.S. manufacturer of solar panels created kind of this challenge from a from a perspective to kind of basically bring light to this issue. And so that's what really held up all these tariffs and put these back on the books. So companies are being either supplied by China or owned by China. So I think that was an understandable concern, because right now, we want to get on a path to Net Zero. But in the end, what happens 20 years from now, when we have no manufacturing capability to replace the solar panels that we're making right now? And what if we're in a conflict with China? How are you going to be able to then move forward? I think we saw the exposure of how hard countries like Germany were unable to respond to the Russian aggression to Ukraine. We could be in a situation as well, where we our hands are tied to actually have a meaningful response. So I think this is a very important issue. And I don't think just the Defense Production Act, invoking that I think it's kind of a signal that you don't have a good strategy moving forward, and you're out of options. And it's a “we're in a bind.” So I think that it really doesn't have much to add too much impetus to it. It's basically just a mea culpa, that we've screwed up to this point, and are in a pickle. So that's how I think about that. It's very problematic, and we need to really find ways to address this.
Bob Smith: There are a couple of other issues that I think are quite key that are not only competitive challenges in terms of the U.S. and our dependency upon China, singularly on China for the production and creation of not only the raw materials, but the fabricated solar panels themselves, you know, leaves me wondering why we can't produce this in the United States. But more importantly, where and how they're produced in China leaves a lot of questions. Most of the production for solar panels, is happening in the Northwest Territories of China – Jiang, Sichuan, Hunan – large populations of the Uyghurs live there. And the question of forced labor in the creation of solar panels, begs a lot of ESG issues. And more importantly, the amount of energy required to produce polysilicon wafers is extraordinarily high, relative to the amount of power that eventually gets produced by a solar plant or panel in a relatively short period of time. And certainly over the 30-year life, probably you'll get repayment depending upon where you live in a reasonable period of time. But the fact of the matter is, there are 3,000 coal-fired plants in China. Most of the power generation in the Northwest Territories comes from coal-fired plants, to produce silicon wafers to be sold, and to be put into panels that are sold to the United States. From an ESG perspective, isn't this really problematic for us?
Andy Poreda: Absolutely, Bob, and I think this is one of the issues that's going on in the ESG investing world is what makes something ESG. And I think with the Tesla discussion is brought up that it's not just an environment impact from your product itself. There are also the manufacturing of that product, there are environmental externalities that have to be dealt with. And as you mentioned, if you're using coal power to make a solar panel, it limits the environmental benefit. And so that's key moving forward. If we want to get to Net Zero, we can't just use coal to manufacture everything in our clean energy economy, because we won't get there. That's a huge percentage of our power usage. But then I think it's also, as you mentioned, the S and the G. And that's the other part is this a Xinjiang solar panel, kind of like a conflict diamond, in that it's made not necessarily in a way that is what we consider ethical? And then you start looking at the G perspective, and we're basically dealing with companies that are run and managed by the Chinese Communist Party. That's also a huge G risk that we're exposing ourselves to, and dealing with our international trade that in this situation is a challenge, and it's a risk. It's just like we saw with Ukraine and Russia. It's Russia, companies that dealt with Russia, both whether its supply chain or otherwise, that's a huge sovereign risk that is material to be dealt with. And so I think these are the things that have to be considered. It's not just the E from the product, it's the operations as well as the S and the G are also very important, and critically, especially to start dealing with national security things that we need to focus on at this time.
Bob Smith: Yeah, no, definitely, I think the last thing I think is probably worth touching upon is the what I would call the Achilles heel of the whole process here. And that, you know, when you look at global solar capacity and projections, it's expected to grow to about 4.5 terawatts, by 2050, where were we at the end of 2020 – 760 gigawatts, so multiple upon multiples of expected growth in terms of the amount of solar capacity that will be available to people around the planet. And there are estimates out there that this will be a growing waste burden, in that producing all the solar panels, we could be looking at as much as 80 million metric tons of waste emanating from the solar power industry, meaning end-of-life kind of challenges. The whole license to operate in terms of the solar panel world is really organized around the idea that it's a green technology. But when you look at it in terms of the end-of-life challenges that it has at the end of the useful life. And you say, okay, what do we do with all this waste? Where do we go with the metals? Where do we go with the glass panels and the aluminum, and so forth? And can we recycle any of these? We are still at very rudimentary levels of technology. And yet this looms as one of the more massive challenges in really making this a circular, green power technology that really worked for the planet. What do you think about that?
Andy Poreda: Well I really like how you frame this, and I agree on the circular economy challenge that we deal with right now. So I would say that, I guess the question would be, we look at how much money the government spends to subsidized solar panels for installation. And it's a huge component, you know, if you're going to go buy a solar panel on your roof, it might be almost 30% of the project you might get back in government credits. That being said, as you alluded to, it's likely to cost about $1 to $2 to put it in a landfill for when your solar panels at its end of life. But then it could cost about $30 per panel to basically recycle it. And so without any incentive, there's no benefit for that recycling, because it's going to cost you money on the back end. And unfortunately, the economics of it are basically going to make it so that it's very easy just to put in the trash. And that's what's been happening. So I think that policy, again, with anything, just like when we built nuclear power plants back in the 1950s, we didn't really deal with the waste management side on the back end. And now we're faced with this problem, which is probably one of the big challenges of nuclear now. And one of the reasons there's opposition, but we're not having that same opposition to the solar waste, or even wind turbine waste. That's, you know, again, it's the whole electrified economy is going to leave a lot of externalities on the back end, including battery storage, which will be then batteries that are at their end of useful life. What do we do with all these? So I think that's the problem. And I think we can't overlook it just because we want to reach an end state goal of Net Zero, because in the end, we're trying to solve one problem, but then we're bringing about another as an externality.
Bob Smith: Wow. For our listeners, I really encourage you to read our paper that we released a few weeks ago – Renewables Aren't Renewable. And this really gets into some of the what we would call the underbelly of the renewable space and that we don't have circular technologies, like we all imagine, that there's a lot of work that has to be done on the recycling side in order to make these technologies truly what they are, in terms of being a very environmentally friendly over the entire useful life, and post useful life of these technologies. We need to tackle it; if we don't, we're just creating another kind of problem that didn't exist but will exist in the future. Let me switch gears, let's go to something that's you know, a little bit more problematic, a little bit down to earth that we've seen in the headlines in the media over the last several weeks. And I think many of us have read about the Deutsche Bank raid that was executed by the authorities in Germany, where they invaded their offices. And on the basis of investigating them for making false claims on their investment management activities with regard to ESG and sustainable investing, essentially, accusing them of greenwashing. And in almost a criminal sense, which I was quite amazed to see that they would have gone to that extent, but you know, this fraudulent claim of greenwashing and so forth, that the German law enforcement folks were accusing them of is really based on some of the accusations that were made by Desiree Fixler, you know, back in 2020, accusing the senior management of DWS and making false claims about how they managed assets with regard to ESG criteria. So, this poses kind of a reckoning for ESG managers in the investment management world and here in the United States as well. Assets that are in funds they claim to be focused on sustainability, or ESG factors reach something in the order of about $2.8 trillion in the fourth quarter, according to Morningstar. And that's up from roughly a trillion dollars in 2019. So clearly, regulators are watching this trend. And they're wondering, is everything that investors are being, you know, sold and told, accurate? Is there veracity to these statements? And even more recently, we saw that Goldman Sachs had four of their mutual funds that came under scrutiny. These funds were labeled as clean energy or ESG, and had ESG in their name. And so the regulatory bodies that are out there are now moving throughout the marketplace and seizing upon moments to pay a call to asset managers. And I'm wondering, Andy, what's our point of view with regard to what the basis and the outcome of this whole effort will be?
Andy Poreda: Well, Bob, I do think this is not great that it happened in Germany but not the U.S. But I think it is definitely a sign of things to come. And we talked about this before, we found out news on Friday that Goldman Sachs is being investigated. So I think each regulator probably has differing goals. I would say that what it looks like from the U.S. perspective is still TBD. I think when we saw what happened with BNY Mellon, a little while back, when it was only a $1.5 million settlement, it was more of a shot across the bow and a warning of what might be to come. And now I don't know if enough time has passed to where these other investigations will come up with more serious fines or potential other legal challenges for these companies. I think that could again, it could be just we now went after BNY Mellon, we're going after somebody a little larger now. Well, they're warning, but I think that even an absence of having the SEC ESG disclosure rules coming about those don't come to fruition. I think it still showcases the SEC means business. And if you haven't started as an asset manager codifying what ESG means to you and how you're applying it, you're way behind the ball in terms of making yourself safe from that perspective. But ultimately, the good part about this is ideally, if these greenwashers are kind of sifted out, then I think investors will have more confidence in what asset managers are doing from an ESG perspective. So I think it's a double-edged sword. And hopefully that'll be the positive that comes with all this.
Bob Smith: Yeah, yeah, we all hope for that. And, you know, this effort is not over by any means. And I'm sure that we'll see further headlines down the road here of other organizations that perhaps weren't as buttoned up as the SEC might prefer in this new environment. So we'll remain on the watch. So let me take our listeners to one of the other topics that we thought was kind of interesting for the week. And that was the ESG fight in the government's Thrift Savings Plan. The Thrift Savings Plan is quite significant. It's probably the largest retirement plan that almost everybody in America has never heard of. And it is the savings plan, the DC plan for the civilian workforce and the military, of the American government. And the DOL wrote a paper back in February, basically on the idea of protecting retirement savings from climate risk. And they raised in that paper very pointed questions about the Thrift Savings Plan and how the board was addressing climate risk in their investment choice architecture. Now interestingly, the DOL doesn't have any regulatory authority over the TSP, which Andy will tell you is a fairly large plan. But they do have audit responsibility. And through that process, they raise some very pointed questions, which clearly raised the attention of certain members of Congress. So this has now become a bit of a political football. But it is also indicative of where the DOL was going, which is the other side of the coin, and where it was in the previous administration, which was totally anti-ESG. And climate risk analysis being applied in terms of investment choices, to one where it's going 180 degrees in the opposite direction. So Andy, what do you think is going to be the upshot of this thing? And what are the real issues in this?
Andy Poreda: Well, Bob, it's a great question. And it is something that I think will set the tone for other DC plans to follow. We saw in the Schroeder’s survey that basically only 37% of DC participants have that option for an ESG investment. But yet, almost 75% want some sort of ESG-like investment, however you define that can be obviously different based on what it means to you. But I think the big thing is that should DC participants get options to be able to invest how they want, or should it be a one-size-fits-all option, that you basically don't have any choice in what your investments look like? And so I would say that, for me, I think what we're seeing, and we saw this in the Secure Act of 2019, that we should be giving people options to invest 1) how they want, but 2) how it may fit into their retirement portfolio. Because not everybody is only going to have one DC plan; you may have multiple ones, you may close your fund, you may buy into another one, you may want annuities after you retire or just draw down from your investments – everybody's going to have a differing strategy. And so to try to make everybody into a one-size-fits-all like the TSP originally was sort of doing, where you get to invest in either five funds or a lifecycle fund, I think the idea of just giving options is a key thing that this is kind of opening up. Should investors have options to be able to take risk or invest how they feel they want to invest. And so I think that's the first and foremost biggest issue that should come out of this, whether or not you agree with ESG or not, should you be able to invest how you want with your retirement dollars that are part of your compensation package?
Bob Smith: I agree. I mean, when you when you sit there and you say this is an $800 billion plan, serving the interests of 6.5 million participants. How is it that they can only choose from column A or column B, you get three choices? And that's it?
Andy Poreda: Yeah, and that's the problem. So at first, I think people should agree on, regardless of what you feel about ESG investing, should somebody have the option to make their own investment decisions within reason? And so those people that do decide to use this, what basically is going to happen is investors can opt into a mutual fund window, and they can then pick their own funds. There's about 5,000 of them available, but then they end up paying an annual fee to do that. And then they also have to pay for every trade they make. And so it's only predicted 3% of people will opt to go into the mutual fund window, because those extra costs kind of diminished the benefits for you as a consumer to take those options. So I think we won't see much adoption. I think ultimately the battleground is going to be this idea of ESG and taxpayer dollars going towards “ESG investments,” that's what's being weaponized right now. And it's just kind of a rallying cry, I feel like basically weaponizing ESG, for this political battle that we're seeing, unfortunately, I think that's what's going on. And as you alluded to earlier, this idea that the DOL previous administration said ESG investing goes against fiduciary duty, whereas the current DOL is basically saying ESG is part of your fiduciary duty. I don't know if that's going to get sorted out. But I think the idea that ESG is part of that should at least be considered. And I think, from how we look at it, ESG investing is definitely not breaching that fiduciary duty. And that's, I think, what hopefully will come of this. I don't expect to see ESG investments as a default option for the TSP. So that was actually floated back early on in the administration. But at a minimum, I think people should have the choice to invest in the funds that they want to, ESG or otherwise.
Bob Smith: In listening to you discuss it, one of the things that comes to mind that I saw recently was a defined contribution survey that was done by Schroeder's, the investment management and investment banking firm out of the UK. And in that survey, they found that 87% of the respondents said that they want to invest in line with their values, one. And secondly, that if they were given ESG options, it would entice them to contribute more to their retirement savings. And we live in a world where people aren't saving as much. And we're trying to encourage them to save more for retirement. And yet we put these barriers in front of them. In the sense of, you know, if you prefer to invest, what would make you save more? Well, I would like to invest for my values. Oh, no, no, no, no, you can't do that. To me, it really is working against the interest of the average participant and certainly against the interests of trying to build retirement savings in the United States.
Andy Poreda: Absolutely, Bob. I'd love to see a survey as to how many participants leave money on the table and don't max out their contribution from their employer. I mean, you see it in a small business that some people elect not to, for whatever reason, but this is money that is ultimately going to affect them in terms of if they don't put that money in when they're 22 years old. That's just going to decrease their potential for having a nice retirement nest egg later on. And so these are huge challenges. We need to encourage people to save and invest early. And I think that's what we need to talk about is what brings them to the table or what is preventing them from actually maxing out their retirement savings.
Bob Smith: Well, let's move to you know, another important topic that is a very clear and present climate-related challenge. Significant once-in-a-lifetime kind of proportions, and that is the drought that is underway in the Southwestern United States. And it is getting really, really bad. So much so that we are now reading almost on a daily basis that the reservoirs of Lake Mead and Lake Powell, which are major water systems for at least five, if not six different states, countless numbers of communities, whether they be Native American, whether they be rural, whether they be ranching, whether they be major cities, major population centers and major farming centers, water levels have gotten so low that we are going to what they call deadpool. Deadpool is a is a term that you use to describe the inability to move water through the system. And what's important about that is that we have a lot of hydroelectric power that's driven by the Hoover Dam, as just one example, that really requires a good flow of water and a minimum level of water to essentially run the turbines and create the power and so forth. We have arrived that level in the system now that is dangerously low. Deadpool is a term that suggests that we now move into a more stagnant state from a power generation perspective, and certainly from a water availability perspective, in order to irrigate our farmlands, and to also run water into our major metropolitan centers. And so this is probably the largest national climate risk crisis that we have seen in the United States for some time, that is not going to quickly reverse itself. So I know, Andy, you wrote a bit about it, are there things that we really need to focus on in this?
Andy Poreda: Yeah, absolutely. So Bob, I think the key with this deadpool idea is that right now, for the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead would have to drop about 100 feet to go offline. That being said, it's probably not going to happen this summertime. However, right now, even in June, because of the decreased waterflow, power production is already down about 33%. And so max capacity, the Hoover Dam provides almost a power of say, equivalent of two nuclear power generators. And so that's problematic. They're already down 33%, as our need for power continues to increase in the summer, gets lower that power production goes down and down. And that's obviously one thing that is a concern. And so if Lake Mead ever went offline, we don't have the ability to necessarily just open up a new power plant, because they've been relying on that hydroelectric power for years. And so the problem is going to be is that renewable sources aren't going be able to make up the load no matter how quickly you install them, because it's a continuous source of power. And so we need continuous power sources to replace it. And that's not necessarily something that's going on right now. And so I think this is a key thing that we talked about in Texas, you know, even now this early on in the summertime is that we get close to capacity when it gets really hot. What's going to happen? And so chances are blackouts increased across the region. But I think that's going to be probably minimal of a concern until we talk about possibly the long-term food scarcity issues. We're starting to talk about food shortages in places like Ukraine, I think that's going to be the issue that comes to head, possibly this wintertime, when we look at the Imperial Valley, where about two-thirds of our winter vegetables are created, and they're planting those, you know, as we speak, or have already planted them. And those will come to market. And we also have food shortages in other places around the world. I think that's the bigger concern that I don't know if we have an answer for and may manifest itself much sooner.
Bob Smith: Certainly, we don't have a national plan for this. This is a national security issue, the impact that the adverse impact, the potential for adversity is immense. When you think about it in terms of municipal activity, all the various different municipal credit issuer credits that are involved in terms of the cities, the counties, school districts, and so forth, that are highly reliant upon, you know, water availability and working Water and Power Systems. Then you think about it from a commercial activity level, and the inability to deliver water and power is going to significantly strain the ability to keep businesses going. And really create challenges for whole communities, from an employment standpoint, from a business activity and tax base standpoint. So there's a multiplying effect here. And it's really important for people to focus on this from an investment risk standpoint. Certainly from an inflation standpoint, we shouldn't be talking about this more and more as a national security issue, as opposed to oh, don't worry, the snows will come back, and the waters will flow. This is not going to be answered by one decent snow season. Is that right?
Andy Poreda: I think that's what the experts are saying. And I would say if we get lucky and we do have unforeseen weather where this does go away, I think we should count our blessings. But that's not what's predicted to happen. And I do think we also have to talk about this net migration to places in the Southwest. California obviously has had a huge population boom decades before, but in places like Las Vegas and Phoenix, we have huge migrations from a population perspective, which only put further strain and make more people vulnerable. Same with businesses. When we have semiconductor chips like Intel coming along, and going online that require water. These are issues that will manifest itself, as you mentioned across businesses, municipalities, from multiple different facets. So I think it is definitely worth discussing and raising the alarm right now and not being complacent with the hope that weather will save us.
Bob Smith: I would encourage our listeners to read our piece that we released early in May, entitled “Between a Desert and a Dry Place: Las Vegas and Its Water Conundrum.” And it was a really good exposition that really went into detail about this very significant challenge. And I think it's well worth reading. It's able to bring everybody up to date in terms of what are the issues? What are the concerns, and what are the possible adversities that we may face as a result of this particular climate challenge. And with that, I'm going move onto our last subject that we touched upon in this week's ESG 5. And this is something that was unimaginable, I don't understand how somebody would come to this kind of conclusion. But that was a piece that was featured in The Wall Street Journal, talking about the ESG movement is a ripe target for antitrust action. And there was a piece that was written that provided a discussion that really was built around the idea that ESG and the whole ESG movement was not only depressing oil and gas supplies, but may also be in violation of U.S. antitrust law. And as I read that, shook my head, I said, I'm not really reading this, am I? And I think, let's get a basis in terms of what antitrust was all about. So antitrust laws or regulations that encourage competition by limiting the market power of any particular firm. And, indeed, let's harken back to Standard Oil, one of the reasons why we have antitrust laws in the form of the Clayton Act, and so forth, and the Sherman Act, and because we wanted to bust up Standard Oil, and so forth. And so, really, this is the pot calling the kettle black. And, you know, antitrust activity involves ensuring that there are mergers and acquisitions that don't overly concentrate market power or allow organizations to essentially form monopolies. And so to me, it was almost ludicrous that somebody would, you know, make the position or establish the position that ESG advocates and the ESG movement was indeed an effort to create some kind of an antitrust monster. And I'm just wondering, Andy, how do we come out on this? What are the big points that we need to identify here?
Andy Poreda: That is a lot to kind of sift through and think about, but I do think that there are some concerns with ESG investing and how it does shape our energy future? I think those concerns are legitimate; basically, do we want to have a pragmatic energy transition or do we want to have a radical knee-jerk energy transition? I think, with some of the problems we're facing, and just looking in the supply chain, for shortages that we're seeing that affect our renewable economy, I think we have to be pragmatic. And I think that's a good message. And I do think if you look at what's going on in the space, a lot of the large asset managers are sharing a similar sentiment. And we can see that from how they voted on climate initiatives from year to year. And this year, Blackrock, State Street, and Vanguard, considered the top three of the asset management world, they were much more pragmatic in what initiatives they supported or didn't. So I think the key is that yes, there is the need for a pragmatic transition. And large asset managers are large shareholders of the majority of companies based on their indices that they own. I think that's obvious that they do have a lot of influence. But the idea now is that they have a lot of influence, but are they trying to collude together to basically drive up the price of oil and gas shares? And I think that's the part where it really just doesn't pass the sniff test. Because I do think that if we look back, we looked back a couple years. And we saw all these things that were going to happen if we had a crystal ball, I think a lot of investors would have would do things differently, necessarily. We wouldn't necessarily if we could change things not necessarily be in the same position if we could act accordingly. But a lot of the things that happened were unforeseen: inflation post-COVID was something we never dealt with. We also were not anticipating the Russian-Ukraine war. These things caught people largely off guard. But in the end, to think that we made all these decisions to kind of depress the output of oil and gas to basically drive up the shares of a company like Exxon, so that all the other companies in your portfolio could suffer to me just seems ludicrous, because in the end, we look at what's happening to our overall portfolios, BlackRock, State Street, and Vanguard are suffering, and they're not necessarily hanging their hats on how well Exxon is doing. And so most large investors have to look at the totality of their portfolio. And I think like everybody else they’re seeing the red and they're disappointed. So I don't know how this would be like a successful collusion to basically violate antitrust laws. I don't know your thoughts are similar. But to me, it just seems a little far-fetched to put the two together and call it an antitrust violation.
Bob Smith: We of the ESG advocates are colluding or forming a cartel to limit competition, I agree is ludicrous. It doesn't pass the sniff test. And as we go forward, the promotion of alternatives, the promotion of a more balanced approach, which includes nuclear, includes nat gas, includes wind, solar, hydro, biomass, all these things, we are advocates of a much more balanced and rational approach. It's not binary, it's not black and white. And it's definitely not a collusion on the part of those who want a cleaner climate in a cleaner environment. That is not the intent. And that's not the way I think people in the ESG community intend to operate. So interesting, though, that it's getting down to those kinds of arguments. So I want to I want to thank Andy for all those wonderful insights and comments, and I want to encourage our listeners to visit the Sage Advisory website where you will see a virtual cornucopia of opinions and insights on everything in all things ESG. Thank you again, and we look forward to coming back to you with our next ESG 5.
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