15 States Threaten To Pull Assets From Big Banks That Cut Off Fossil Fuels

(Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

Varun Hukeri General Assignment & Analysis Reporter
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A coalition of 15 Republican state treasurers is threatening to pull assets from financial institutions that “refuse to lend to or invest in” the coal industry and other fossil fuels.

The state treasurers, led by Riley Moore of coal-dependent West Virginia, sent a letter to special climate envoy John Kerry on Tuesday that criticized his efforts to pressure big banks and lenders to cut off fossil fuels, stating their opposition to the Biden administration’s “command and control” policies.

“We intend to put banks and financial institutions on notice of our position, as we urge them not to give in to pressure from the Biden administration to refuse to lend to or invest in coal, oil and natural gas companies,” the state treasurers wrote.

Kerry privately pressured big banks earlier this year to make their lending commitments and investment portfolios more climate-friendly, Politico reported. The Biden administration has faced scrutiny from Republican lawmakers over their efforts to pressure financial institutions. (RELATED: 19 States Urge Biden To Reinstate Keystone After Colonial Pipeline Hack Caused Mass Gas Shortages)

The state treasurers who signed the letter represent some of the nation’s largest fossil fuel producers and collectively manage more than $600 billion in assets, according to financial records obtained by Axios. The letter’s signatories threatened to terminate contracts with banks that cut off lending to the state’s fossil fuel industry in response to federal pressure.

“As the chief financial officers of our respective states, we entrust banks and financial institutions with billions of our taxpayers’ dollars,” the treasurers said. “It is only logical that we will give significant weight to the fact that an institution engaged in tactics that will harm the people whose money they are handling before entering into or extending any contract.”

Moore further told Axios that coal and gas producers in West Virginia have reported difficulties obtaining financing from banks. He blamed the Biden administration for pressuring financial institutions to “green” their lending and investment portfolios.

“Frankly, it is not fair for the people of West Virginia to allow a bank to handle our money when they’re diametrically opposed to our way of life,” he said.