by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Republican state officials are readying plans to punish woke banks which push anti-fossil fuel policies and adhere to so-called environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards.
West Virginia announced last week it would bar five major financial institutions, including BlackRock, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan, from entering into banking contracts with the state treasurer’s office or any state agency. Each of the five corporations had committed to policies limiting commercial engagement with the fossil fuel industry, which paid a whopping $769 million in taxes to West Virginia’s state government.
“We’re not going to pay for our own destruction, we’re not going to subsidize that,” West Virginia State Treasurer Riley Moore told FOX Business during an interview. “They have weaponized our tax dollars against the very people and industry that have generated them to begin with. That is why we’re pushing back against this ESG movement.”
He noted that U.S. Bancorp backed off its prohibition of fossil fuel lending and was, as a result, kept off the state’s restricted list of financial institutions.
Moore’s action, a first-of-its-kind response to major banks’ ESG push, is likely to be the start of many similar actions nationwide. At least 15 Republican-led states, which collectively manage tens of billions of dollars in public funds, have proposed laws or policies that would similarly punish anti-fossil fuel banks over the last year, according to a FOX Business analysis.
“We’ve really seen, frankly, a weaponization of capital by some of the largest banks and fund managers in the world,” Derek Kreifels, the CEO of the State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF), told FOX Business. “If you want to make social change in this country, we have a democratic process that you should utilize to get that done.”