State Treasurer launches effort to find banks that discriminate against oil and gas companies

Russ seeks to protect the oil and gas industry – Oklahoma News


Oklahoma State Treasurer Todd Russ launched his efforts to locate those financial institutions that are discriminating against Oklahoma energy companies in the name of their ESG efforts.

The Treasurer sent a letter and questionnaire to a list of national financial institutions, including fund managers and banks, to determine which companies “boycott energy companies” in Oklahoma.

This move is the first step in compiling the list of companies Oklahoma government entities are prohibited from doing business with because of their environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies according to an announcement by the Treasurer’s office.

“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. It is my responsibility to ensure Oklahomans’ tax dollars will not be used to enrich organizations that act counter to our taxpayers’ interests and our values,” Treasurer Russ said.

“This questionnaire provides an opportunity for financial companies to attest to their business actions as they relate to Oklahoma. 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.”

Last year, the Oklahoma Legislature passed the “Energy Discrimination Elimination Act,” which requires the State Treasurer to determine and provide a list of what financial companies are, “taking any action that is intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on, or limit commercial relations with a company” because of their stance on fossil fuels and ESG criteria.

ESG Regulation is Coming to Town - Anti-Corruption & Governance Center

Additionally, this law mandates that any company that fails to respond to the letter and provide the Treasurer with written verification that they do not boycott Oklahoma energy companies within sixty days (April 1, 2023) from the date of the letter is presumed to be engaged in discriminating activities and will be placed on the public list of financial companies that are engaged in energy company boycotts. Based on this list from the Treasurer, Oklahoma government entities must divest any assets with the listed financial companies. This legislation went into effect last fall.

“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) and Teachers Retirement System (TRS) to ensure our constituents’ tax dollars are only invested in secure and verified financial companies that comply with Oklahoma law,” Treasurer Russ said. “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.

Source: press release