West Virginia is refusing to do business with Wall Street firms that boycott the fossil fuel industry, the first state in the nation to do so.
West Virginia treasurer Riley Moore (R.) on Thursday determined that BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, as well as Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs, are ineligible for state banking contracts due to their boycotts of fossil fuels. The ban will cost the Wall Street firms $18 billion per year, according to Moore's office.
"At the end of the day, all we want is for banks to act like banks," Moore told the Washington Free Beacon, adding it would be hard for the state to continue functioning without the coal industry.
Democrats are moving to eliminate fossil fuels as part of their governing platform. President Joe Biden has taken several actions to curb fossil fuel production, including bans on oil and natural gas leases on federal land. The president also revoked the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have transported hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil from Canada to the United States. Democratic senators like Raphael Warnock (Ga.) have also pushed for the country to move away from oil and gas through a carbon tax.
The coal mining industry accounts for more than 11,000 jobs in West Virginia, and the state reaps hundreds of millions of dollars in severance taxes from coal extraction annually. The average coal miner engineer makes nearly $90,000 a year.
In June, Moore gave the firms 30 days to provide the Mountain State's treasury with proof they supported the coal, oil, and natural gas industries. U.S. Bank eliminated its anti-coal mining efforts during that time, leading to its removal from Moore's final list of banned financial firms.
"I simply cannot stand by and allow financial institutions working against West Virginia’s critical industries to profit off the very funds their policies attempt to diminish," Moore said. The state treasurer also blamed the diversion of capital away from the fossil fuel industry for inflation, calling the move "economic extortion."