The West Virginia legislature recently passed a bill that would allow the state treasurer to restrict the state’s business with financial institutions that adopt corporate policies to cut off financing for the coal, oil, and natural gas industries.
The legislation, which was first proposed by state Treasurer Riley Moore, advanced through the state House of Delegates and Senate over the weekend and now heads to the desk of Republican Governor Jim Justice.
If Senate Bill 262 becomes law, Moore will be able to create a list of restricted financial institutions that “have been shown to refuse, terminate or limit commercial activity with coal, oil or natural gas companies without a reasonable business purpose,” his office said in a statement on Monday.
Companies on the restricted list may be excluded from eligibility for state banking contracts “ensuring that financial institutions are not entrusted with the state revenue and taxpayer dollars they are attempting to diminish,” Moore’s office said.
“I am proud to lead the way to protect our coal, oil and natural gas companies from unfair, anti-American attempts to cut off their access to capital and banking services,” Moore said in a statement. “The current situation in Europe clearly demonstrates the dangers of letting woke capitalists weaken and destroy our domestic energy producers. It’s time to fight back against those who are trying to wipe out thousands of middle-class jobs, and once again put America first and restore our energy independence.”
A spokesperson for Moore told Bloomberg West Virginia has paid banks annual fees ranging from thousands of dollars to upwards of $3 million. Moore’s office does not have a list of financial institutions it expects would be restricted by the proposal, according to the report.
The bill’s passage in the state legislature comes months after Moore led a coalition of financial officers from 15 states that warned the U.S. banking industry in November that they plan to take “collective action” against banks that cut off financing for the coal, oil, and natural gas industries.
The group threatened to scrutinize or potentially curtail future business with banks that adopt an “economic boycott” of those industries in a letter to financial institutions including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and Goldman Sachs.
The group included state treasurers, auditors and comptrollers from West Virginia, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming, Alabama, Texas and Kentucky.
The letter put the financial institutions that have “adopted policies aimed at diminishing a large portion of our states’ revenue” on notice, saying the banks have “a major conflict of interest against holding, maintaining, or managing those funds.”
“This is not really a boycott,” Moore told National Review at the time. “I’m a market participant and I’m exercising my preference not to work with these banks.”
He added that the treasurers “want banks to go back to being banks and not instruments of this woke agenda,” saying that “woke capitalism” is “nonsense.”
The treasurers noted in November that the coal, oil and natural gas industries provide well-paying jobs, health insurance, basic infrastructure and quality of life to citizens in every state.
In comments to National Review at the time, Moore accused the banks of trying to control Americans’ lives.
“They sold us on globalization and now the only businesses in our small towns are Walmarts. Now they want to eliminate one of the only remaining industries that gives West Virginians a good living.”