West Virginia lawmakers are clamping down on corporations trying boost environmentally and socially responsible investing. A new report by EcoConsult Solutions finds their actions will likely cost taxpayers at least $9-million, and perhaps as much as $29-million dollars annually. Senate Bill 262, passed last year, restricts the state from investing in companies deemed to be energy boycotters. Among those boycotted include BlackRock, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo.
Jim Kotcon, chair of the West Virginia Sierra Club, said restricting long-term financial investments in the form of bonds could end up costing residents and taxpayers by reducing the amount of money the state has for public services and programs.
“This appears to be an effort by the state government to help bail out the coal industry and to deny the real cost of climate change on West Virginia citizens,” Kotcon said.
More than two dozen states are suing the federal government over a U.S. Department of Labor rule change on environmental, social and governance, or ESG, in workplace retirement accounts. The rule allows 401(k) providers to consider climate change and other issues when making investments.
Kotcon said environmental groups believe state investment funds should take into consideration environmental and social factors, especially since West Virginia communities are struggling to cope with increased flooding and extreme weather events driven by climate change.
“It has become sort of an extremist initiative,” he said, “trying to penalize financial institutions that are attempting to do the right thing.”
More than a dozen states so far have passed or have pending bills that would pull state funds from investments deemed to be adverse to the oil and gas industry, according to the report.
A new report finds an anti-sustainable investing law passed by West Virginia lawmakers last year will likely cost taxpayers at least $9 million, and perhaps as much as $29 million annually. Critics say the law is part of a nationwide trend of states penalizing financial institutions taking steps to address climate change. Comments from Jim Kotcon (COATS-in), chair, West Virginia Sierra Club.
West Virginia lawmakers are clamping down on corporations trying boost environmentally and socially responsible investing. More from Nadia Ramlagan (ROM-la-gone).