How an Organized Republican Effort Punishes Companies for Climate Action

Mr. Moore, the state treasurer of West Virginia, coordinated a letter in November from 16 state treasurers and auditors to banks across the country threatening “collective action in response to the continued and growing economic boycott of traditional energy production industries by U.S. Financial Institutions. “

“It is our sincere hope that no financial institution is ineligible to provide banking services to our states,” the letter said.

And in January, Mr. Moore raised approximately $20 million from a fund managed by BlackRock because the company has encouraged other companies to reduce emissions. BlackRock still manages several billion dollars for West Virginia’s state pension system. “We are divesting from BlackRock because they are divesting from us,” Moore said in an interview.

In private, elected officials in conservative states have been even more blunt.

“These big banks are virtue signaling because they are awake,” wrote Gary Howell, a West Virginia state representative who sponsored a bill that would blacklist companies that have divested from fossil fuels, in an email from 8. February to Mr. Moore. The message was obtained by Documented, a watchdog group of companies, at the request of the Freedom of Information Act. “They either shut up or get on the list, that’s my goal,” he wrote.

Mr Howell did not respond to a request for comment.

Idaho’s top elected officials, including the governor and the entire congressional delegation, sent a letter last week to the chief executive of S&P Global, the rating agency, which objects to the company’s use of ESG metrics in its state rankings. “It is impossible for the state of Idaho not to conclude that S&P has implemented a politicized rating system,” the Republicans wrote. Officials in other states, including Utah, have sent similar letters.

Curtis Loftis, the treasurer of the state of South Carolina, emailed senior executives at JPMorgan on Sept. 1, warning banks to “stay out of the political culture wars and especially refrain from the petty, ‘awakened’ cancellation culture.”

Mr Fink of BlackRock has emerged as one of the prime targets of Conservatives. Last June, BlackRock, along with Vanguard and State Street, launched an activist hedge fund, Engine No. 1, helped to win three seats on Exxon’s board with the aim of inciting the energy giant to reduce its carbon footprint.

SOURCE – www.nytimes.com

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