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Tipsheet

Another State Just Joined the Fight Against ESG Investing

M. Spencer Green

In the ongoing work to protect consumers and investors whose assets are managed by large firms from losing out due to woke priorities sold as "ESG," Oklahoma State Treasurer Todd Russ is putting financial companies on notice: confirm that you're not engaged in a boycott of energy companies or get banned from doing business with Oklahoma's state government entities. And that ban on doing business with the Sooner State could cost woke companies billions of dollars. 

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In a letter to dozens of financial companies — including familiar ESG-pushing names such as BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street — Treasurer Russ explained that the Oklahoma Energy Discrimination Act of 2022 requires him to "prepare and maintain a list of financial companies that boycott energy companies."

To create such a list, Russ' office "requests a written verification of your company's position regarding the boycott of energy companies, executed and verified by an authorized representative of your company" which must be completed and returned to the Oklahoma State Treasurer (OST) "no later than 60 days after receiving" Russ' letter said. The treasurer notes that a company "may be presumed to be boycotting energy companies under Oklahoma law" if they "fail to timely respond" to OST's request. 

Among the 15+ questions posed by OST to the financial entities are: "Has your company committed or pledged to meet environmental standards, such as reducing your greenhouse gas emissions, beyond applicable federal or state law with respect to its lending, investing, or underwriting portfolio, or with respect to the companies with which your company does business?" and "Do you belong to the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative?"

Getting listed on the State of Oklahoma's energy company-boycotting list "will prohibit Oklahoma governmental entities from investing in, and may potentially require divestment from your company, your company's affiliates and subsidiaries, or investment vehicles affiliated with your company, its affiliates, or subsidiaries," OST's letter further explained.

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"I took office on January 9th and began compiling a list of companies, banks, and other entities that act against Oklahoma’s interests because of their ESG stance," Treasurer Russ said. "It is my responsibility to ensure Oklahoman’s tax dollars will not be used to enrich organizations that act counter to our taxpayers’ interests and our values," he explained. "Other states are taking similar steps, and Oklahoma joins them in asserting that we will not do business with financial companies who discriminate against or boycott our energy industries and businesses."

"This list is crucial to provide accountability for our government entities, including organizations responsible for pension funds such as the Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS), Teachers Retirement System (TRS) to ensure our constituents’ tax dollars are only invested in secure and verified financial companies that comply with Oklahoma law," Russ noted. "OPERS alone has more than 60 percent of their portfolio totaling more than $10 billion managed by BlackRock, a well-known adversary of energy businesses," he said. 

That is, BlackRock alone could be out $10 billion just from one State of Oklahoma entity — and there were dozens of financial companies who received the OST letter and other Oklahoma entities from which energy boycotting companies could lose business. 

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Several other Republican-led states have taken similar actions to divest from financial companies pushing ESG priorities at the detriment of customers and the state's economy. Kentucky, Missouri, Texas, and others have worked to divest state funds from ESG-obsessed asset managers while 13 states took action to prevent Vanguard from buying up shares in publicly traded utilities with the goal of "decarbonizing" the energy industry and 19 states launched a probe of major banks' involvement with a United Nations alliance promoting ESG.

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