Exclusive: A coalition of 21 state attorneys general issued a stark warning to dozens of financial institutions and asset managers, warning them against prosecution. Awaken environmental and social initiatives.
In a letter sent Thursday to 53 of the nation’s largest financial institutions, which collectively manage trillions of dollars in assets, the attorney general threatened legal action if the companies deviate from the best interests of their clients while Advance social priorities. The effort, led by Montana, Utah and Louisiana, comes ahead of proxy season during which most companies hold annual shareholder meetings where they vote on key policy initiatives.
“This ESG nonsense permeates a lot of our states, and the way they’re doing it is really troubling and possibly blatantly illegal,” Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen told Fox News Digital in an interview. “It’s being pushed through these asset managers and through these proxy votes is deeply troubling.”
“The message is: ‘Stay your course and do what you’re supposed to do. You have a fiduciary obligation under various state laws to invest more. This is your job. This is what you’re supposed to do. We’re aware of state law and, if necessary, will advocate for retirees.'” In the state against anything outside this course.”
The text of the letter, first obtained by Fox News Digital, states that in recent years large asset managers, who own majority stakes in major publicly traded companies, have used client assets to change corporate behavior to align with so-called Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Standards.
Critics — including attorneys general, state treasurers, the energy industry and consumer advocacy groups — have accused ESG-focused asset managers of ignoring their legally mandated fiduciary duty to look out for the well-being of the clients whose money they manage.
In the letter, Knudsen and other prosecutors stated: “You … are not only obligated to follow the general laws discussed above, but you also have broad responsibilities under both federal and state laws governing securities.” “In general, these laws require you to act as an agent, in the best interests of your clients and with due care and loyalty.”
And she continued, “Simply put, you are not like political or social activists, and you should not allow activists to appropriate the enormous savings entrusted to you to achieve non-financial goals.”
Prosecutors took up a particular issue with ESG practices that drive aggressive climate policies that opponents have said they would. hinder the fossil fuel industry Increasing consumer energy prices.
The letter on Thursday highlighted that asset managers are participating in the Climate Action 100+ and have joined the Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative (NZAM). Both associations require members to make certain climate commitments.
For example, NZAM requires members to “accelerate the transition toward global net-zero emissions and for asset managers to play our part to help achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.” NZAM members are also committed to implementing “a moderation and engagement strategy, with a clear escalation and voting policy, consistent with [their] The ambition for all assets under management to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 or earlier.”
Climate Action 100+ seeks commitments from boards and senior management to “reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the value chain” through net zero commitments.
In their letters, the two prosecutors stated: “None of this is financially defensible.” “Instead, it is a transparent attempt to push policies through the financial system that cannot be achieved at the ballot box.”
Knudsen added that he’s concerned that ESG policies will ultimately harm Montana residents reduce their energy choices hiking prices.
“Montana is a northern state. It’s really cold,” he told Fox News Digital. “We can’t heat our homes with rainbows and fairy dust. That’s basically what we’re talking about here when we talk about solar power or wind power. When it’s 40 below in February in Montana, the sun doesn’t shine, the wind doesn’t blow.”
“We have a million people to heat. Therefore, we must have reliable energy,” he said. “And Montana is an energy-producing country. We produce oil, we produce natural gas, we produce some of the best coal in the world. So, I mean, to me, that’s a no-brainer.”
Knudsen noted that New York-based BlackRock, one of the asset managers referred to in the letter, has a 25% stake in NorthWestern Energy, Montana’s largest regulated utility company.
Black Rock, who alone Manages more than $8.5 trillionExplicitly leveraged customer funds to drive green transition policies to combat global warming. In 2021, the company’s CEO Larry Fink said pension funds, foundations and endowments “must have a loud voice.” [fossil fuel] companies to move forward.
Thursday’s letter also warned against taking certain actions to promote racial and gender quotas or abortion. More than 20 abortion-related alternative procedures have been proposed this year, more than every year combined, according to the contributor advocacy group As You Sow.
In addition to BlackRock, the letter was sent to Franklin Templeton, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, Invesco, JP Morgan, State Street, and dozens of other asset managers.