WV sends notices to six banks, funds over their unwillingness to trade in fossil fuels

26 February 2024- West Virginia State Treasurer Riley Moore today confirmed he has sent notices to six financial institutions warning them of potential inclusion on the state’s Restricted Financial Institution List after his Office made an initial determination that the institutions appear to be engaged in boycotts of fossil fuel companies as defined under state law.

The Treasurer made this determination based on a review of each institution’s own environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies and other publicly available statements.

“With the passage of the Restricted Financial Institution List law in 2022, we took an unprecedented stand against politically motivated efforts to cut off financing to West Virginia’s coal, oil and natural gas industries,” Treasurer Moore said. “While we have been effective in our fight against ESG activism, we must remain vigilant to ensure we do not entrust state funds to banks that are engaged in coordinated political efforts to destroy our state’s critical industries. My action represents our continued commitment to protect taxpayer dollars from harmful ESG policies.”

The Restricted Financial Institution List law, which Treasurer Moore proposed to the Legislature and was passed in 2022, authorizes the State Treasurer to publish a list of financial institutions that have publicly stated they will refuse, terminate or limit doing business with coal, oil or natural gas companies without a reasonable business purpose.

Under the law, the Treasurer may exclude banks on the list from eligibility for contracts for state banking services, ensuring that financial institutions are not holding the same state revenue and taxpayer dollars their ESG policies are attempting to diminish.

The first list was published in July 2022, when Treasurer Moore determined five financial institutions – BlackRock Inc., Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo & Co. – were engaged in boycotts as defined by state law, and no updates have been deemed necessary since that time. This year, the Office expanded the scope of its research to include more financial institutions and determined additional banks should be examined for potential inclusion on the list.

Notices of potential inclusion on the list were delivered to financial institutions on Friday of last week. The notified financial institutions will officially be placed on the list in 45 days from receiving notice, unless they demonstrate to the Treasurer that they are not engaged in a boycott of fossil fuel companies. The institutions have 30 days from the time they receive the initial notice to submit a response to the Treasurer’s Office.

“Some institutions, such as Bank of America, have recently been proactive in adjusting their corporate policy statements to return to fairer, more objective treatment of our coal, oil and natural gas industries,” Treasurer Moore said. “As I’ve said all along, we just want banks to act like banks and judge these companies on sound, objective financial metrics rather than subjective political factors.”

More information on the Restricted Financial Institution List is available at www.wvtreasury.com/Restricted-Financial-Institutions.