Red states fight back with all-out assault against woke banks: ‘We won’t do business with you’

Republican state officials don’t plan to just allow woke banks pushing climate change to destroy them and are readying an all-out assault to fight back against so-called environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards.

(Video Credit: Fox Business)

West Virginia is leading the way and announced last week that it would block five major financial institutions, including BlackRock, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo, and JPMorgan from entering into banking contracts with the state treasurer’s office or any state agency. These companies have all instituted policies limiting commercial engagement with the fossil fuel industry.

“We’re not going to pay for our own destruction, we’re not going to subsidize that,” West Virginia State Treasurer Riley Moore declared in an interview with Fox Business. “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.”

ESG, or “stakeholder capitalism,” has been pushed by the World Economic Forum and billionaires such as Bill Gates. One of its biggest and most vocal advocates is BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, who continues to double down on the concept of pushing large financial institutions to get on board. But some of them are pushing back.

U.S. Bancorp backed down from barring fossil fuel lending and was, therefore, kept off West Virginia’s restricted list of financial institutions.

Virginia’s stance against the ESG push by major banks will almost certainly be the beginning of a similar backlash across the country. Currently, at least 15 conservative states have proposed laws or policies that would penalize anti-fossil fuel banks, according to Fox Business.

“We’ve really seen, frankly, a weaponization of capital by some of the largest banks and fund managers in the world,” Derek Kreifels, who is the CEO of the State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF), said according to 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.”

“The SFOF has assembled a ‘NATO-like alliance’ of state treasurers and financial officers who are committed to forwarding free market policies,” Kreifels continued.

The group has focused on ESG and has made a point of putting the federal government, banks, and S&P Global, a credit rating agency that assigns ESG scores, in the hot seat.

West Virginia is being widely applauded for taking on the banking institutions and a dozen state financial officers told Fox Business they were formulating their own response to “woke banks.”

“The agency is continuing to work through the information we have received back from the companies we contacted for more information as well as finalizing our process for identifying suitable candidates for the Texas list,” a spokesperson for Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar stated via an email.

Hegar sent letters to 19 financial institutions in March requesting clarification on their fossil fuel investment policies.

Other states following Texas and Virginia’s lead include Kentucky, Oklahoma, Florida, South Carolina, Arizona, Louisiana, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Arkansas, and North Dakota.

“These industries are economically integral to Kentucky,” a spokesperson for Kentucky State Treasurer Allison Ball commented to Fox Business. “They provide jobs for Kentuckians, fuel commutes and the supply chain, and keep the lights on. We want to support these signature industries.”

“We hope we have sent the message that if you won’t do business with Kentucky, we won’t do business with you,” she stated.

“For years now, the cult of ESG economic activists has been working overtime to infuse unwanted, woke ideology into the American economic system because they know their social policies wouldn’t pass the sniff test from voters,” Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis said in a statement on July 27. “It’s anti-American, anti-freedom, a deliberate attempt to subvert our democracy and not in the best interest of Florida businesses, retirees, or investors.”

“I represent the citizens of the Palmetto State, not those of out-of-state or international activists and institutions,” South Carolina State Treasurer Curtis Loftis told Fox Business. “I will not allow these wealthy and powerful elites to supplant the voices of our citizens and the decisions of their elected representatives.”

Arizona State Treasurer Kimberly Yee asserted that her office would determine future partnerships based on whether companies “stand for American values,” not the ESG rating system. She is also blaming ESG along with President Biden for higher gas prices and raging inflation.

“Treasurer Ellsworth believes that Idaho’s fiduciary duty is to the shareholder and not unelected stakeholders who pressure financial institutions to reduce lending to who they deem is a disfavored company or state through use of ESG criteria,” a spokesperson for Idaho State Treasurer Julie Ellsworth remarked to Fox Business.

“Idaho stands firm in protecting all our industries, including our diverse natural resource companies,” the spokesperson contended.

Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo have publicly said they were sharply reducing financing for new coal projects, while BlackRock has been reducing its holdings in coal companies since 2020.

In 2020, BlackRock began attacking the coal industry, announcing that the firm’s managed funds would begin divesting from coal companies.

“Thermal coal is significantly carbon intensive, becoming less and less economically viable, and highly exposed to regulation because of its environmental impacts,” wrote the company’s executive committee, which is led by chief executive Larry Fink, according to the New York Times. “With the acceleration of the global energy transition, we do not believe that the long-term economic or investment rationale justifies continued investment in this sector.”

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