WV Treasurer Moore- Wall Street is finally abandoning ESG

29 August 2023- State Treasurer Riley Moore today said a recent precipitous decline in Wall Street money manager shareholder activism is evidence state actions against radical Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) proposals are turning the tide in the marketplace.

“This is a direct result of increased pressure from West Virginia – including our bill that specifically addressed activism in the proxy voting process – and our growing coalition of states to push back against ESG activism,” Treasurer Moore said.

“We are now seeing that our actions to protect our public funds from shareholder activism and financial institutions who act against our citizens’ best financial interests are having a significant effect in the marketplace and turning the tide against these anti-American agendas,” Treasurer Moore said. “I’m proud West Virginia continues to lead the fight to protect free markets and our pension beneficiaries’ retirement money.”

Treasurer Moore’s comments follow reports of a significant decline in support for shareholder ESG proposals in the most recent proxy voting season.

According to the Financial Times, citing data from BlackRock and Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), overall support across the marketplace for shareholder resolutions fell to 15 percent during the proxy voting season that ended June 30, down from 25 percent in 2022 and 32 percent in 2021.

One of the world’s largest money managers, BlackRock Inc. – which had once led the charge for ESG activism – only supported 7 percent of shareholder climate proposals, down sharply from 22 percent in 2022 and 47 percent in 2021.

For its part, BlackRock said the latest round of proposals this year were largely, “over-reaching, lacking economic merit, or simply redundant.”

“While President Biden and his allies are trying to strong-arm Wall Street executives into implementing an extreme environmental and social agenda, it’s clear even the most liberal darlings on Wall Street are finding it hard to stay in line,” Treasurer Moore said. “This is due to our relentless, unwavering efforts at the state level to hold the line against the command-and-control coercive capitalism coming from the White House.”

Treasurer Moore and West Virginia have been leading the way in the fight against the extreme ESG agenda.

Last January, Treasurer Moore was the first elected official to divest funds from BlackRock over its ESG activism. He also championed legislation to create the country’s first Restricted Financial Institutions List, which prohibits state business with firms shown to be engaged in boycotts of the fossil fuel industries.

Earlier this year, he worked with lawmakers to pass House Bill 2862 that requires the state’s investment boards – which manage more than $34 billion in public pension and state investment funds – to cast proxy votes solely based on the financial interests of pensioners and taxpayers, rather than ESG factors, making West Virginia one of the first states to codify this in law.

Treasurer Moore has also worked with and supported colleagues in other states – including Arizona, South Carolina, Utah, Arkansas, Missouri, Louisiana, Florida, Kentucky and Oklahoma – to implement similar measures in their states.