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Major banks banned by GOP state for boycotting fossil fuel industry

A pile of money. (Government Accountability Office)
April 09, 2024

West Virginia State Treasurer Riley Moore revealed Monday that the state is adding four major financial institutions to the “Restricted Financial Institution List,” banning them from providing banking services to the state due to their environmental activism and boycott of the fossil fuel industry.

A press release by Moore’s office explained that Citigroup, HSBC, TD Bank, and The Northern Trust Company will no longer be eligible for banking transactions with West Virginia following a review of each bank’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) policies.

“We cannot allow institutions that seek to destroy our state’s critical energy industries and the economic activity they generate to also profit from handling the very taxpayer dollars they seek to diminish,” Moore stated. “My action today represents our continued commitment to protect state funds from furthering these politically motivated, subjective ESG policies that attempt to cut off financing for our coal, oil and natural gas industries and harm our state.”

According to Fox Business, the Investment and Banking Services Division of the West Virginia State Treasurer’s Office managed roughly $22 billion in banking transactions in 2023.

Moore explained that the four banks were added to the list under the 2022 “Restricted Financial Institution List” law, which gives the state treasurer authorization to put together a list of financial institutions the state will not conduct business transactions with if they refuse, terminate, or limit business with fossil fuel industries “without a reasonable business purpose.”

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“We are absolutely going to stand by our industries here in fossil fuels,” Moore told Fox Business on Monday. “Last year, the world burned more coal than any time in human history. The consumption of coal is not going down. That is a myth that is proliferated by the climate-activist left. So, why would we put ourselves in a position to not be part of that?”

Fox Business reported that Citigroup, HSBC, TD Bank, and The Northern Trust Company will join Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase & Co., BlackRock, Wells Fargo & Co., and Morgan Stanley on the Restricted Financial Institution List.

According to Monday’s press release, Citigroup, HSBC, TD Bank, The Northern Trust Company, BMO Bank and Fifth Third Bank were notified in February that they had 30 days to show they were “not engaged in a boycott of fossil fuel companies.” However, only BMO Bank, and Fifth Third Bank successfully showed that their investment policies do not include a boycott of fossil fuel companies.

“I applaud both of these institutions for working with us in a cooperative way to ensure the free market remains free and our state’s critical industries are treated fairly,” Moore said.