The Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday accused United States Steel Corp. of failing to disclose of its stockholders the potential cost of complying with federal state and local pollution control laws.
It was the first time the securities commission has brought an enforcement action against a company under its rules and regulations concerning the environmental law, the SCC said.
The company has settled the complaint, which covered the period between 1973-77, by agreeing in the future to disclose such potential costs to shareholders.
U.S. Steel also agreed to hire an independent consultant to estimate the cost of complying with the environmental laws. In addition, the company agreed to appoint a task force to review U.S. Steel's environmental disclosure policies and to prepare a report on improving the process.
The SEC said in explaining its action that the company itself estimates that environmental control expenditures could range between $1 billion and $1.4 billion.
"The company has indicated that expenditures of this magnitude could have an adverse financial impact on the company," the SEC said.
The SEC, in its complaint, allowed that U.S. Steel had made some disclosures concerning its approach to environmental matters.
The SEC added, however, that the company "did not fully describe its approach or the risk to which it might be subject, as a consequence, among other things, of pursuing that approach."
The commission accused the company of filing misleading reports to stockholders between 1973 and 1977.
In a brief statement, the company neither admitted nor denied the charges. U.S. Steel said it settled the case because it was "in the best interest of the corporation . . . to avoid a protracted dispute."