West Virginia Republican Treasurer Riley Moore announced Monday the state’s Board of Treasury Investments would no longer be working with BlackRock for banking transactions over the investment firm’s animosity towards fossil fuels and friendliness with Communist China.
“As the state’s chief financial officer and chairman of the Board of Treasury Investments, I have a duty to ensure that taxpayer dollars are managed in a responsible, financially sound fashion which reflects the best interests of our state and country, and I believe doing business with BlackRock runs contrary to that duty,” Moore said in a press release.
The West Virginia treasurer’s office raised issues with the firm’s commitment to “net zero” emissions investment strategies at the expense of the state’s workers who are reliant on coal, oil, and natural gas. Moore also cut the state’s relationship with BlackRock over the group’s escalating investment in Chinese interests.
“The Chinese government’s blatant interference and controls over businesses and markets creates a tremendous amount of uncertainty and risk for anyone attempting to invest there,” Moore added.
BlackRock did not respond to The Federalist’s request for comment on Moore’s decision.
In December, the educational nonprofit Consumers’ Research penned a letter to 10 governors including West Virginia’s warning consumers and governments about BlackRock’s relationship with China.
“BlackRock’s funneling of billions in U.S. capital to China carries with it risks not present in other markets, risks that threaten the large wagers the company is putting on steep returns from the Middle Kingdom,” wrote Consumers’ Research Executive Director Will Hild. “Chinese firms are not held to the same transparency standards as their western counterparts, so foreign investors are often hard pressed to appreciate the true risk profile of what they’re investing in.”
Whether other states will follow Moore’s lead remains an open question.
“I know several other states are looking at this as well,” Moore told The Federalist. “I think this is the beginning of a big pushback.”
In November, Moore led a coalition of 15 states pledging to park $600 billion in taxpayer assets elsewhere from firms that refuse investment in fossil fuels. Wall Street’s refusal to invest in the capital-intensive industry has served as a primary obstacle to energy production. Republican treasurers in Ohio and Oklahoma, however, each top-10 oil-producing states, remain absent from the coalition.
Backlash against BlackRock for its antagonism towards the industry began to escalate last year after Texas lawmakers overwhelmingly voted in the spring to direct state pension funds to pull investments from the firm.
In a letter to Texas politicians last year revealed by Alex Epstein, author of “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels,” the company tried to save face with lawmakers by claiming to be a proud proponent of power production by way of cheap reliable fuels. CEO Larry Fink, however, has simultaneously pledged in his 2022 letter to executives the company’s efforts to reach “net zero” emissions, a prospect incompatible with a flourishing oil and gas industry.
“Instead of acknowledging oil/gas’s immense value and apologizing for BlackRock’s role in today’s energy shortages, Larry Fink’s 2022 letter makes a trivializing reference to their value and does not even mention today’s energy crisis, let alone reflect on BlackRock’s culpability,” Epstein wrote.