Republican state treasurers are coordinating with each other and conservative groups to execute a well-funded campaign to block climate policies at the state and federal level, a New York Times investigation Friday revealed. The group meets regularly to exchange tactics and talking points, taking cues from one another on implementing policies that protect fossil fuel interests in their states against any efforts to promote a clean energy transition.
Most recently, West Virginia Treasurer Riley Moore announced that major banks, including Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and Wells Fargo would be barred from doing business in the state, not because they are boycotting the fossil fuel industry – far from it! – but because their long-term strategies acknowledge that it makes economic sense to wind down investments in fossil fuels. Kentucky, Tennessee, and Oklahoma join Texas and West Virginia in passing bills that bar state investments in businesses that are divesting from fossil fuels; the treasurers of Louisiana and Arkansas joined West Virginia in pulling hundreds of millions of investments out of BlackRock; while Utah and Idaho’s treasurers are pressuring the private sector to abandon “woke” practices.
They have also coordinated attacks on Biden administration nominees who have said they planned to use their offices to reduce emissions, forcing Office of the Comptroller of the Currency nominee Saule Omarova and Fed board nominee Sarah Bloom Raskin to withdraw from their appointments.
The effort is backed by a Kansas-based nonprofit, State Financial Officers Foundation, with ties to conservative groups such as the Heritage Foundation and the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, both of which have longstanding associations with the denial-funding oil billionaire Koch brothers.
It also has links to Leonard Leo, the longtime vice president of the Federalist Society who is credited with spearheading a decades-long effort to stack federal courts with conservative judges.
The result of their efforts will cost households directly, slowing the market’s natural trajectory toward cheaper and more plentiful renewable energy, while keeping in place global warming-causing fossil fuels whose emissions will contribute to worsening climate impacts, with a hefty price tag from extreme weather damage, worse health outcomes and lost productivity.
“These officials are using the public finance market to make political statements,” said Daniel Garrett, a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. “They can use these laws as a carrot or stick as they desire, but the costs can be potentially quite large.” (New York Times $)