By Brittany Bernstein
November 23, 2021 - A coalition of financial officers from 15 states sent a letter to the U.S. banking industry on Monday warning they plan to take “collective action” against banks that adopt corporate policies to cut off financing for the coal, oil, and natural gas industries.
The group threatens to scrutinize or potentially curtail future business with banks that adopt an “economic boycott” of those industries in a letter obtained exclusively by National Review.
“Just as each state represented in this letter is unique in its governing laws and economy, our actions will take different forms,” writes the group, led by West Virginia treasurer Riley Moore. “However, the overarching objective of our actions will be the same — to protect our states’ economies, jobs, and energy independence from these unwarranted attacks on our critical industries.”
The group of state treasurers, auditors and comptrollers from West Virginia, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming, Alabama, Texas and Kentucky say they have a “compelling government interest” to eleven major financial institutions that “are not engaged in tactics to harm the very people whose money they are handling.”
JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and Goldman Sachs were among the recipients.
The letter puts the financial institutions that have “adopted policies aimed at diminishing a large portion of our states’ revenue” on notice, saying the banks have “a major conflict of interest against holding, maintaining, or managing those funds.”
“This is not really a boycott,” Moore told National Review. “I’m a market participant and I’m exercising my preference not to work with these banks.”
The financial officers say they will take “concrete steps” within their authority to select financial institutions that “support a free market and are not engaged in harmful fossil fuel industry boycotts for our states’ financial service contracts.”
Moore said the treasurers “want banks to go back to being banks and not instruments of this woke agenda,” adding that “woke capitalism” is “nonsense.”
The treasurers note that the coal, oil and natural gas industries provide well-paying jobs, health insurance, basic infrastructure and quality of life to citizens in every state.
The letter accuses the Biden administration of resuming Obama-era attacks on energy companies which only serve to “cut off paychecks for workers and take food off the tables of hard-working families.”
It notes the Biden administration has tried to ban energy exploration on public lands and has reportedly pressured U.S. banks and financial institutions to limit, encumber or outright refuse financing for traditional energy production companies.
Earlier this year, Moore led a coalition of 15 state treasurers in opposition against the Biden administration’s efforts to end investment in the fossil fuel industry.
Last month, the U.S. Department of Treasury issued guidance to end American financial support for traditional energy production projects in developing countries around the world.
Meanwhile, Biden’s nominee for comptroller of the currency, Saule Omarova, has said she wants to ‘bankrupt’ the coal and natural gas industries and proposed to ‘end banking as we know it.”
“This administration has made clear they will not stop their attacks on the American energy industry, so it’s time that we, as a collective of states, stand up for our people’s interests,” Moore said in a statement. “We will continue to take the lead in defending our citizens and these industries from these misguided, un-American attacks.”
In comments to National Review, Moore accused the banks of trying to control Americans’ lives.
“They sold us on globalization and now the only businesses in our small towns are Wal Marts. Now they want to eliminate one of the only remaining industries that gives West Virginians a good living.”