Oklahoma is Leading the Charge Against ESG
- BY Sarah Coffey
Oklahoma is among the top oil and gas producers in the nation. Attempts to boycott the oil and gas industries could have a devastating effect on thousands of jobs in the Sooner State.
That’s why the state’s governor, treasurer, and lawmakers are rightfully targeting environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing.
ESG is politically driven investing
…and Oklahoma is right to fight it. Investing should work as follows: Your hard-earned money is invested by money managers with high returns in mind. This results in a maximum return on your investment.
But ESG involves a political agenda informing investment decisions, regardless of performance. Industries that may be high-performing or essential—like oil and gas—are boycotted for their “environmental impacts.” In other words, investments are made for the sake of “green energy,” politically motivated companies, and other leftist priorities—not returns on your investment. Your retirement account funds a political agenda with ESG.
Oklahoma’s leadership is taking a stand against ESG
Leadership in Oklahoma should be applauded for their willingness to take ESG to task. In Governor Kevin Stitt’s first State of the State Address, he called out ESG as an “attack on affordable domestic energy delivered by our oil and gas industry.”
Other officials are fighting back on the front lines, too. Recently, State Treasurer Todd Russ sent a letter to top financial institutions like BlackRock, Vanguard, JP Morgan, and others, demanding details of whether they are specifically boycotting energy companies.
“I took office on January 9th and began compiling a list of companies, banks, and other entities that act against Oklahoma’s interests because of their ESG stance. It is my responsibility to ensure Oklahoman’s tax dollars will not be used to enrich organizations that act counter to our taxpayers’ interests and our values.” -State Treasurer Todd Russ
Russ is firm in his stance that Oklahoma will not line the pockets of companies that are actively boycotting Oklahoma’s key industries of oil and gas. Russ’s alignment with a bill passed by the Oklahoma Legislature a year ago is commendable.
Current legislation in play could fight ESG and protect taxpayers
Currently, legislators are considering several proposals to protect Oklahoma’s jobs and taxpayer dollars.
One bill under consideration would prevent companies that actively engage in economic boycotts from entering state contracts. Another would protect retired Oklahomans from the pitfalls of politically motivated investing. Oklahoma’s pension fund is a promise, and to keep that promise, the only consideration that should be made in its management is maximizing returns, so that retired Oklahomans never miss a pension check.
Further, the House recently passed legislation that would allow Oklahoma to take back the power of its proxy votes on corporate boards. Because Oklahoma holds so many large investments, those who control those funds can also influence corporate boards to engage in all sorts of political activism. This would prevent Oklahoma-owned proxy votes from becoming ammunition in political wars. Lastly, a bill aims to clarify the state’s securities act so that if a financial advisor wants to make investment decisions on a client’s behalf for reasons other than making their client the most money possible, they simply must disclose that to the client.
Bottom line: ESG is bad for Oklahoma. Leadership in the state—from Gov. Stitts and Treasurer Russ to the Oklahoma Legislature—is taking a stand against politically driven investing and working to protect taxpayer dollars from the harmful effects of ESG.