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Tipsheet

Why Woke Institutions Just Lost Access to Billions of Dollars

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File

Companies that have chosen to go all-in on the left's radical climate and energy agenda received a wakeup call from Oklahoma on Wednesday when the Sooner State's treasurer announced more than one dozen companies deemed to be boycotting Oklahoma's energy industry are now banned from doing business with the state.

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It's no secret that President Joe Biden and his administration have been working at a furious pace to "end fossil fuels" and force Americans to transition from cheap and reliable energy sources to expensive and unreliable "clean" or falsely labeled "green" sources. 

As if the power of the presidency and unelected federal bureaucrats wasn't enough, the left's radical energy agenda has been helped along by ideological movements within big business, such as ESG — environmental, social and governance — policies that have undermined profitability in order to punish companies that don't go along with Biden's goal of ending fossil fuels. 

On the other side of the equation, however, are state financial officers who are holding woke, ESG-pushing companies accountable and ensuring their states' bottom lines aren't undermined by leftist activists and their radical priorities. 

That group includes Todd Russ, Oklahoma's state treasurer, who made the announcement Wednesday that 13 financial institutions had been found to be engaging in boycotts of the Sooner State's energy industry. As such, the companies are being named and shamed and will be losing access to billions of dollars from state entities.

"The energy sector is crucial to Oklahoma’s economy, providing jobs for our residents and helping drive economic growth," Treasurer Russ said in a statement accompanying his announcement. "It is essential for us to work with financial institutions that are focused on free-market principles and not beholden to social goals that override their fiduciary duties," he added.  

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The companies boycotting Oklahoma energy are:

  • BlackRock
  • Wells Fargo and Co.
  • JPMorgan Chase & Co
  • Bank of America Corporation
  • State Street Corporation
  • Grosvenor Capital Management
  • Lexington Partners
  • FirstMark Fund Partners, LLC
  • Touchstone VC Global Partners
  • WCM Investment Management
  • William Blair
  • Actis LLP
  • Climate First Bank

Treasurer Russ put financial institutions doing business in his state on notice in February that any actions to undermine Oklahoma's energy industry — such as embracing ESG standards — would disqualify them from continuing to have access to state funds and entities.

As Townhall reported at the time, Treasurer Russ sent a questionnaire to financial institutions, pursuant to the Oklahoma Energy Discrimination Act of 2022, that required him to "prepare and maintain a list of financial companies that boycott energy companies."

Among the 15+ questions posed by OST to the financial entities were: "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?"

In all, Treasurer Russ received close to 160 responses from institutions, most of which passed muster and were not added to the boycott list or banned from doing business with Oklahoma. When Treasurer Russ put the institutions on notice, he explained that getting listed — as those 13 did on Wednesday — "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." 

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"We appreciate the prompt response from these financial institutions," Treasurer Russ said on Wednesday. "Our state's financial partnerships should reflect our priorities and values, and it is our responsibility to partner with companies that share our vision for a strong and prosperous Oklahoma economy, and that includes our energy sector.”

Treasurer Russ' follow-through on his state's work to ensure its finances are on as strong a footing as possible and not subject to the whims of shifting woke standards received praise from others in the fight against ESG.

"This is a significant step by Treasurer Russ in guarding his state's financial security against ESG advocates like BlackRock and State Street and other financial institutions that boycott energy companies and prioritize agendas that run contrary to Oklahoma taxpayers' interests," noted Derek Kreifels, the CEO of the State Financial Officers Foundation. He added that "Treasurer Russ and state financial officers across the country are at the forefront of the fight against ESG, ensuring that American families' savings are invested according to their values and not ESG extremists."

Consumers' Research Executive Director Will Hild, another leader and group pushing back against ESG, said "Treasurer Russ has acted on behalf of his constituents, showing what real leadership is about."

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"This list from Oklahoma is the latest in a number of states who are standing up to woke companies like BlackRock and its CEO Larry Fink," Hild reminded. "This is what happens when you wage war on the pocketbooks of the American people for the sake of a radical progressive agenda. You lose."

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