A group of 15 Republican treasurers, including Missouri’s Scott Fitzpatrick, are threatening to remove their state’s assets from banks that “refuse to lend to or invest in coal, oil and natural gas companies.”
The move comes in response to efforts by the Biden administration to get banks to help reduce U.S. carbon emissions. Specifically, the group of treasurers is focused on calls by President Joe Biden’s climate envoy, John Kerry, on financial institutions to move away from financing high-polluting fuels such as coal.
In a letter to Kerry, first reported by Axios, the 15 GOP treasurers accused the president of trying to “bully corporations into curtailing legal activities.”
And for those banks who do go along with the plan, the treasurer’s delivered a threat of their own.
“As the chief financial officers of our respective states, we entrust banks and financial institutions with billions of our taxpayers’ dollars,” the letter 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.”
The letter’s chief signatory, West Virginia Treasurer Riley Moore, was more blunt, telling Axios he was prepared to terminate contracts with banks that pull back their fossil fuel industry lending in response to administration pressure.
In a statement released Wednesday morning, Fitzpatrick said that while the pursuit of more renewable sources of energy “is a noble cause, the fact is that fossil fuels remain critical to our country and the entire world.
“Attempts to pressure financial institutions to cut off the fossil fuel industry,” he said, “amounts to nothing less than an abuse of power by the federal government and should not be tolerated by states.”