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Polluters complain to Congress about new EPA rules, but tell SEC their bottom line will be fine.

According to the Associated Press, across the land, large and small polluters have regaled Republican-led congressional committees with dire predictions of plant closings and layoffs if the EPA succeeds with plans to further curb air and water pollution.

But their message to financial regulators and investors conveys less gloom and uncertainty.

The Associated Press compared the companies’ congressional testimony to company reports submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The reports to the SEC consistently said the impact of environmental proposals is unknown or would not cause serious financial harm to a firm’s finances.

Companies argue that their less gloomy SEC filings are correct, since most of the tougher anti-pollution proposals have not been finalized. And their officials’ testimony before congressional committees was sometimes on behalf of — and written by — trade associations, a perspective that can differ from an individual company’s view.

The disparity in the messages shows that in a politically divided environment, business has no misgivings about describing potential economic horror stories to lawmakers.

California Rep. Henry Waxman, the senior Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said the SEC filings “show that the anti-regulation rhetoric in Washington is political hot air with little or no connection to reality.”

The lesson here, is – every time a company threatens gloom and doom consequences from regulation, we should also take a look at what they are saying to the SEC and their stockholders.