Story at a glance

  • A group of 15 Republican treasurers are threatening to remove their state’s assets from financial institutions who “refuse to lend to or invest in” the fossil fuel industry.
  • President Biden’s administration has pressured big banks and lenders to help cut carbon emissions.
  • In a letter, the state treasurers criticized the push and said they oppose “command and control” policies aimed at bending the free market to the will of the federal government.

A group of 15 Republican treasurers are threatening to remove their state’s assets from financial institutions who “refuse to lend to or invest in” the fossil fuel industry, Axios first reported.

President Biden’s administration has pressured big banks and lenders to help cut carbon emissions, according to Axios. But the state treasurers criticized the push and said they oppose “command and control” policies aimed at bending the free market to the will of the federal government. 

“It is simply antithetical to our nation’s position as a democracy and a capitalist economy for the Executive Branch to bully corporations into curtailing legal activities,” the group wrote in a letter to Biden’s climate envoy, John Kerry. 


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“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.”

Biden said ahead of the April climate conference he plans to cut U.S. carbon emission in half by 2030. The president additionally signed an executive order in January aimed at putting climate change at the forefront of US foreign policy and national security. 

“The United States will work with other countries and partners, both bilaterally and multilaterally, to put the world on a sustainable climate pathway,” the order said. “The United States will also move quickly to build resilience, both at home and abroad, against the impacts of climate change that are already manifest and will continue to intensify according to current trajectories.”


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The letter's signatories, whose states collectively possess hundreds of billions in assets, include treasurers from some of the nation’s largest fossil fuel producers, including West Virginia, Idaho, Ohio and South Dakota. The group warned that administration interference could additionally “harm the most economically depressed areas in our states and the most vulnerable of our people.”

West Virginia Treasurer Riley Moore told Axios he’s willing to pull assets from banks that curtail lending due to administration pressure. 

"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," Moore told the outlet.

"If you just cut these guys off at the knees — gas and coal in a state like West Virginia — and they can no longer conduct their business ... it is going to destroy us," he said.


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Published on May 26, 2021