Here’s How One Red State Is Beating Back Woke Activism On Wall Street
Now this is democracy in action — a model for other states on how to successfully defeat woke activism. By responding to reasonable concerns from the state of West Virginia, U.S. Bancorp saved itself from the fate of five other major banks pushing a leftist, partisan agenda that harms citizens’ interests. Other states are smart to pay attention.
West Virginia State Treasurer Riley Moore threw down the gauntlet and blocked five major Wall Street banks from doing business with the state because these banks sought to harm the state’s key industries through divisive Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) policies.
Forty-five days after Moore warned U.S. Bancorp, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo and BlackRock that “boycotting” fossil fuels would find them banned from accessing state business, five of the six big banks were officially blocked.
But U.S. Bancorp was spared listing on West Virginia’s Restricted Financial Institutions, Moore’s office said, because it used the 30-day response window to clean up its act and reform its ESG policies — away from an outright ban on financing coal-fired plants.
In 2021, U.S. Bancorp’s ESG policy read “The Company prohibits direct project financing of coal-fired power plants and relationships that involve such plants.” But as of June 28 this year, U.S. Bancorp’s new guidance stripped out the prohibition language on thermal coal and coal mining investments.
The language is still stark (it says these projects “may be deemed outside the Company’s risk appetite”), but it does allow for some investment in new coal mines and Mountain Top Removal (MTR) mining projects. U.S. Bancorp says these types of projects require “additional due diligence and elevated levels of approval, up to the Company’s Chief Risk Officer, and may require appropriate mitigation plans.”
“We’re thrilled U.S. Bancorp decided to roll back its prohibitions on investments in coal and coal-fired power,” Moore told me. “This demonstrates the importance of standing up to these ESG policies that are meant to appease the woke left. Once firms see the harm these ESG policies can inflict on states like West Virginia, and realize their behavior can affect their bottom line, they begin to realize the cost of appeasing these out-of-touch environmental radicals is far too great.”
Unfortunately, our country is in a time of heightened polarization. It seems Wall Street — and I say this with respect as a former Goldman Sachs and Moody’s Investors Service analyst — has lost touch with everyday Americans. Average Americans are bearing the brunt of our painful recession.
Inflation slams poor, minority and female-led households hardest. The suffering people of West Virginia might otherwise entrust public money to these offending banks that make inflation far worse — but now they don’t have to.
It’s easy for Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg or Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm to spout platitudes about shuttering coal plants and praising shiny, expensive new electric vehicles —they’re both wealthy bureaucrats who don’t struggle paycheck to paycheck.
Good on Moore and his team for standing up to these financial institutions and protecting the people of West Virginia. Good on U.S. Bancorp for leaving politics at the boardroom door and helping our financial institutions return to neutral.
Carrie Sheffield is a senior policy analyst at Independent Women’s Voice and a fellow at State Financial Officers Foundation.
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