Moore and ESG investing
Republican state officials like WV’s Treasurer, Riley Moore, are getting lots of publicity attacking banks and investment firms that are supposedly boycotting the fossil fuel industry. The banks, according to these Republican officials, base their investing upon whether a company follows good environmental, societal and governance practices (ESG investing). The result is, according to these critics, less investing in fossil fuels. As the Washington Post recently reported:
Republican officials across the country, tearing a page from the ongoing culture wars, are launching a broad assault on the movement by big financial firms to use their economic power to curb climate change and address other politically sensitive national issues.
One of this group’s more outspoken leaders has been WV’s treasurer, Riley Moore. Here, for example, is Moore on American Moment:
Brad McElhinny, at WV Metro News, explains Moore’s actions:
The state Treasurer’s Office last month sent letters to six of America’s largest investment companies, warning that they may be ineligible for some West Virginia contracts, alleging that they engage in “boycotts” of fossil fuel companies that remain major aspects of the state’s economy.
The warnings came about after this year’s passage of Senate Bill 262, directing the Treasurer to keep a list of financial institutions that steer clear of investments in fossil fuel companies.
The investment firms respond to Moore
Metro then used a Freedom of Information request to obtain the companies’ responses from the treasurer’s office:
BlackRock Inc., Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo, each have responded to say they do not engage in boycotts of fossil fuel companies. Instead, they contend that they provide guidance to investors based on assessing risk.
(The article provides more specific responses.)
“Assessing risk.” Yes, that is most important, and I don’t think you have to be an economist to be aware that, for any number of reasons, coal is not the country’s future. That West Virginia’s Republican leadership continues to ignore the inevitable only means that the state will continue its decline while its citizens pay more and more for electricity. (By the way, I’m old enough to remember when Republicans used to argue that in situations like this, we should let the marketplace decide.) As Tom Sanzillo, at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, explained:
You’re bringing a social cost — the survival of fossil fuels — into the investment process, because left to their own devices the markets would be choosing other than fossil fuels. You’re asking them to perform financial malpractice.
Payback is not a bitch! (It’s the least Moore could do.)
Here is the Charleston’s Gazette-Mail’s Phil Kabler describing a Riley Moore fundraiser in February 2020:
State treasurer candidate Riley Moore is having a fundraiser in Charleston Feb. 13, with an interesting lineup of special guests, event chairs and committee members.
Most eye-catching is that Murray Energy PAC, the political arm of the bankrupt coal company owned by Robert Murray, is listed as an event chairman. . . .
Other event chairs and committee members include Randy Cheetham, with Arch Coal; Sammy Gray, with FirstEnergy; Bob Orndorff, with Dominion Energy; Steve Stewart, with Appalachian Power; Greg Hoyer, with EQT; and Greg Thomas, longtime spokesman, consultant and aide to Don Blankenship.
Looks like they were all there.
Here is Kevin Roberts, the President of the Heritage Foundation, introducing Riley Moore on his podcast, two weeks ago:
Like many in his family before him, Riley Moore began his career working as a welder in a West Virginia rock quarry. While welding, Riley put himself through school and eventually went on to receive a master’s degree from the National Defense University. His unique background has culminated in his role as West Virginia State Treasurer where he has embodied the “on-offense” spirit.
In summarizing Moore’s background, Roberts notes that “many in his family” worked as welders. Really? If you can picture his Aunt Shelley (or any other of the Moore clan) with a welding torch, you have a very vivid imagination, indeed! I also doubt that Moore “put himself through school” by working as a welder. And while I didn’t listen to the podcast, I doubt that there was any mention of Moore’s employment with Paul Manafort in the Ukraine or the dark money election group he headed in West Virginia in 2018.
Yes, as the planet burns around us, West Virginians can rest knowing that we have a senator and a treasurer that are looking out for the best interests of the coal industry.