NORTH DAKOTA (KXNET) — Our $9 billion Legacy Fund is filled with taxes derived entirely from our fossil fuel industry, every penny of it.

Yet, the State Investment Board is invested in a number of Wall Street money managers who are openly opposed to fossil fuels, or who are urging their clients to divest from fossil fuel investments.

The concept is called ESG investing and it stands for Environmental Social And Governance.

North Dakota ranks unfavorably in the environmental criteria because of our fossil fuel emissions.

Josh Meny, who has been investigating the Legacy Fund for two years, has uncovered new information that raises new questions about how our tax money is being invested.

State Treasurer Riley Moore from West Virginia spoke to North Dakota legislators at a recent Energy Development and Transmission Committee.

“We’re not going to pay for our own destruction,” said West Virginia State Treasurer Riley Moore.

States like West Virginia have begun to take action against these Wall Street firms, the same ones our own State Investment Board is using to invest our legacy and pension funds.

They include Goldman Sachs, Black Rock, JP Morgan Chase, Invesco, and Wells Fargo.

“There’s a clear conflict of interest there where we’re handing money over that has been generated from the fossil fuel industry to an institution that is trying to diminish those funds at the exact same time,” said Moore. “They will be barred from doing business with the state government of West Virginia in perpetuity unless they decide to change their policy,” explained Moore.

Texas and West Virginia have already passed laws to prohibit these firms from doing business with their states if they oppose the fossil fuel industry. Other states, including the legislatures in Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kansas, and South Carolina have introduced similar measures.

North Dakota State Treasurer Thomas Beadle is aware of the problem. He joined 14 other State Treasurers last year condemning the Biden Administration for pressuring firms to “refuse to lend or invest in coal, oil and natural gas companies, as part of a misguided strategy to eliminate the fossil fuel industry in our country.”

These State Treasurers, including Beadle, put banks and financial institutions on notice, telling them not to give in to pressure from the Biden administration.

“The firms that are actively anti-fossil fuel are problematic for us because those are firms that are not wanting to allow any capital to flow in,” said Beadle. “But, certainly we can use our money to speak in terms how we want, are hoping, this capital continues to flow in going forward. And, I think that’s where we need to do a better job utilizing our proxy voting powers in utilizing the pressure we can put on our fund manager to invest in programs, invest in vehicles, that we believe in as the state of North Dakota. We just need to make sure that we’re maximizing the return for our citizens,” explained Beadle.

We also spoke with Senator Curt Kreun who chairs the Energy and Natural Resources Committee in our state senate. Senator Kreun recently voiced his support for our fossil fuel industry. He says North Dakota has the “potential to be a global powerhouse” in supplying energy to the nation for hundreds of years.

We wanted to get his thoughts about giving our tax dollars to Wall Street firms who may be opposed to our fossil fuel industry.

It’s been really brought into a very strict focus, and so now it’s time. Everybody thought it was kinda ok, and I believe at this point in time we have to take a very good look at it. Focus our investment over the long term, where can we make these switches, and then at that point in time, I’m in agreement with West Virginia,” said Senator Curt Kreun.

Currently, North Dakota legislators are discussing how to adjust a statute that limits the state’s ability to divest from these Wall Street firms.

The reform is expected to be a key topic for the upcoming 2023 legislature.

KX News reached out to the many investment firms on Wall Street, like Black Rock and JP Morgan Chase, but they did not respond to our inquiries.

On Friday, the North Dakota Office of the State Treasurer reported that the legacy fund earned $102.74 million from oil tax collections last month alone.