Arguing that “it is essential for [the state] to work with financial institutions that are focused on free-market principles,” the Oklahoma legislature approved a motion to ban more than a dozen financial institutions from conducting business with state government entities.
The banned financial institutions are charged with leading boycotts against Oklahoma-based energy companies. The offenders include BlackRock, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, State Street and Climate First Bank.
Oklahoma Republican State Treasurer Todd Russ initiated the legislation by creating a list of financial institutions alleged to be “engaged in an energy company boycott,” according to The Western Examiner.
Russ asserted the boycott negatively impacted state interests.
Russ further asserted that the financial institutions on his list violated the law by “refusing to deal with, terminating business activities with, or otherwise taking any action that is intended to penalize” fossil fuel companies “without an ordinary business purpose.”
Russ told The Daily Wire: “The energy sector is crucial to Oklahoma’s economy, providing jobs for our residents and helping drive economic growth. It is essential for us to work with financial institutions that are focused on free-market principles and not beholden to social goals that override their fiduciary duties.”
Russ added: “Our state’s financial partnerships should reflect our priorities and values, and it is our responsibility to partner with companies that share our vision for a strong and prosperous Oklahoma economy, and that includes our energy sector.”
Conservatives view the legislation as part of a movement to push back against agencies and institutions employing environmental, social and corporate governance movement scores (ESG) in determining partnership worthiness.
Conservatives assert ESG ratings are arbitrary and combine political ideology with business principles.
The Daily Wire reported that some financial institutions “supportive of the ESG movement have discouraged portfolio companies from involving themselves with initiatives that rely upon fossil fuels.”
Notably, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink wrote in his annual letter to investors that “climate risk” is an “investment risk.”
Last year, Oklahoma state officials pressed the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to prohibit Vanguard, a large asset management company that advocated Net Zero greenhouse emissions policies “by 2050 or sooner,” from purchasing shares in publicly traded utilities. The move led Vanguard to drop support of the initiative.
Conservative officials hope the latest legislative victory will lead other institutions to rethink ESG goals and initiatives.
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