Delegates passed a bill described as defending West Virginia’s economic interests against financial institutions engaged in boycotting energy companies.
“For the love of God, don’t put our tax dollars in the banks that want to hurt our economies and hurt our miners and hurt our coal diggers and hurt the general revenue fund of this state and every last penny that we tried to appropriate for all the programs that everyone loves, ”said delegate Daniel Linville, R-Cabell.
Delegates passed the bill on an 80-14 vote. The state Senate passed the bill in late January, but will still have to decide whether to accept or reject the House changes.
Senate Bill 262 would direct the treasurer to maintain a list of financial institutions that avoid investments in fossil fuel companies, which could result in decisions to withhold state deposits from those bankers.
Establishments would have 30 days to respond if they are on the list.
About $8 billion in short-term West Virginia bank deposits could be affected.
Linville said the policy represents rational decision-making by West Virginia as a participant in economic markets.
“We are a market player,” he said. “Where we put our taxes, of which $80 million last month came from coal – where we choose to put our taxes is our decision.”
Treasurer Riley Moore advocated for the bill in legislative committees and made a series of appearances on high-profile cable news programs to discuss financial institutions protecting themselves against fossil fuel investments.
“West Virginia is leading the way to protect our fossil fuel industries from unfair, un-American attempts to cut off their access to capital and banking services,” Moore said today, continuing to say that the geopolitical situation in Europe shows the need for greater energy. independence.
“Senate Bill 262 will strengthen our fight against those who wish to destroy our coal, oil and natural gas industries, and help us turn the tide against the woke capitalists who want to cut capital off from job creators and to our state’s energy producers.”
Delegate Mark Zatezalo, R-Hancock, said that’s the kind of decision West Virginia needs to make to protect its economic interests.
“We need to make a statement, and all of the energy-producing states in the United States of America need to make a statement,” he said.
“We have nothing to be ashamed of. We are trying to take steps to broaden our energy base, and we should do so when we choose to do so.
Delegate Sean Hornbuckle, D-Cabell, said actions by financial companies have been overblown.
“I think it’s a very dangerous proposition, and I don’t know if all the facts are being told today,” said Hornbuckle, who is a financial adviser. “I will tell you I would tell you that having experience in this industry, as a financial advisor, you always want to make sure that you have a diversified portfolio.”
He referred to the financial giant BlackRock, which made headlines this winter by defending climate-focused strategies. BlackRock’s position has been to engage with companies on the carbon transition, rather than divesting from those companies.
“I think it’s a knee-jerk reaction,” Hornbuckle said. “I totally understand the feeling of not wanting to do business with someone who was disparaging something that has been the backbone of our state, but we need to make sure we have the facts straight.”