Texas GOP pressures brokers to ditch climate-friendly funds

The Republican leadership in Texas is taking an increasingly authoritarian turn, not only on culture war issues such as abortion and free speech, but also on crack down on investor freedom choose where to put their money.

In January, Railroad Commission Chairman Wayne Christian, whose job it is to regulate the oil and gas industry, confronted BlackRock, one of the world’s largest investment firms with $10 trillion under management. . He opposed the the company’s commitment to the fight against climate change and apparently won concessions.

“It was nice to hear that BlackRock didn’t mean – or no longer believe – many of the nasty things the company and its CEO Larry Fink have said about the oil and gas industry,” wrote Christian in a post-meeting email obtained by the Nonprofit Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

The Railroad Commission is meant to be the public’s watchdog on a dangerous and polluting industry. But because elected commissioners rely on oil and gas workers for two-thirds of their campaign donations, Christian and the other two commissioners have become the attack dogs of industry instead.

BlackRock released a statement insisting there was no inconsistency between Fink’s open letters advocating less fossil fuel investment and Christian’s email.

Yes indeed.

Christian was rubbing Fink’s nose at a new state law passed by his Republican brethren to punish companies that offer anti-fossil fuel investment strategies. Senate Bill 13 prohibits Texas state agencies from investing in financial companies that boycott fossil fuels.

Comptroller Glenn Hegar, also statewide elected, sent letters to 19 companies asking for clarification on their stance on oil and gas last week. Those who do not respond within 60 days “will be presumed to boycott energy companies,” Hegar wrote.

“Are they selling hope for a ‘green’ future by promising to divest or reduce their exposure to fossil fuels? Hegar asked in a press release. “A handful of companies are echoing the Biden administration’s promises of a ‘transition’ to green energy.”

The horror!

Hegar uses his official position to spread lies about clean energy and elections. He says he is preparing letters to 100 other publicly traded investment firms that he says appear to have one or more funds boycotting fossil fuels.

“These companies will be asked to list all of their mutual funds and ETFs that refuse to invest in fossil fuels,” the Hegar statement said. “Responses gathered from these entities will help finalize the comptroller’s list of companies.”

Environmentally friendly funds are popular with ethical investors. State officials hope the threat of losing official Texas business will spur companies to stop offering clean tech funding and ensure capital continues to flow to their campaign donors.

“By identifying such companies, we can do our part to help ensure that Texas does not invest public funds alongside those engaged in this deceptive scheme,” Hegar wrote of efforts to reduce the dependence on fossil fuels.

Texas Republicans are violating the basic right of brokers to offer products to their clients and denying investors the right to choose where to put their money. The GOP’s promise to defend freedom and protect against government excesses is pure hypocrisy.

Governor Greg Abbott, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, and Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan are responsible for this law, and Christian and Hegar are using it to intimidate investment managers. But make no mistake, the oil and gas industry wanted it.

Almost every CEO who spoke at recent energy conferences complained that investors weren’t giving them enough money. In truth, however, it is their fault. Investors are tired of CEOs spending like drunken sailors when prices are high and failing to deliver a decent return when they fall.

Young people, on the other hand, do not want to support an industry that is destroying the planet with carbon emissions. Oil and gas companies have known about climate risk since the 1960s and still aren’t doing enough to mitigate it.

So oil and gas executives rely on bought and paid politicians to rig the system and provide the billions they need to keep drilling.

As for BlackRock, kissing the Texas executive rings didn’t make a difference. After Patrick’s staff meets with Fink’s lieutenants, he denounced the company.

“BlackRock has said it is committed to Texas and Texas’ vast energy footprint, but I am very concerned that BlackRock’s public statements and actions do not reflect his sentiments presented to my office,” he said. he writes in a letter to Hegar. “As you prepare the list of those who boycott Texas energy companies, I ask that BlackRock be in the lead.”

These guys pose as conservatives, but in truth they are nothing more than capitalist thugs.

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