NORTH DAKOTA (KXNET) — A United Nations-backed group of banks and money managers — including those hired by our own State Investment Board — are working to eliminate carbon emissions in the name of climate change

The group is called the Net-Zero Banking Alliance and it’s a part of a campaign to effectively phase-out fossil fuels.

But this group is now under investigation by the attorneys general in 19 states for, among other things, allowing an international body to set lending and investing policies for U.S. businesses, including businesses here in North Dakota.

Last week we asked North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley if he has joined or is planning to join the Republican attorneys general in the investigation — but he has not responded yet.

So, we looked to our neighbor to the west — where Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen has joined the multi-state investigation.

If these banking firms were to succeed and starve fossil fuel-related projects from loans and investments, how would it harm Montana’s and other states like North Dakota’s overall economy?

“Well, let’s start with what you just mentioned. I mean, let’s talk about your, your state pension funds. You’ve got a number of state employees, I’m sure up in the thousands, much like Montana, that are invested in your state pension funds. And those state pension funds very often are invested in these traditional energy production companies, whether it’s oil and gas, whether it’s coal production, and that’s because those are stable industries. Generally, those are profitable industries. And though they’re a good safe investment for your state pension funds, if we’re going to have outside money managers and large banks come in and start telling those investment funds that they have to divest from those safe investments, that’s going to hurt your pensioners number one, but number two, let’s just talk about state economy. You know, North Dakota is, is very much like Montana, we’re very much energy production states. I’m from northeastern Montana. I’m very familiar with the Bakken. I’m very familiar with McKenzie County, and Williams County, North Dakota. We’re just across the line from that we’ve got the Bakken in Montana as well. That’s a huge source of tax revenue for the state coffers, not to mention just a huge source of local revenue for towns like Williston, like Watford City, like Dickinson, go down the list. And if we’re going to step in there, and now start from outside third parties in your banks and your investment managers start trying to pressure investment away from those industries. That’s going to be hugely detrimental to not only our state economy but state tax revenue as well. And that’s why this is just so dangerous and so misguided,” explained Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen.

Should an international body like the United Nations be setting lending and investing policies for US businesses?

“Absolutely not. I can’t say that any more emphatically, the United Nations has no legal authority in the state of Montana. The United Nations has no legal authority in the state of North Dakota. So why in the world are our state banks in North Dakota and Montana, taking investment advice from the United Nations? Those banks have fiduciary obligations that they owe to the pensioners in North Dakota and in Montana, as well to just your general investors in those states. As I said, traditional energy investment is typically a safe, profitable place to park your money and park your retirement fund. Because we need traditional energy to power the US economy. We’ve yet to figure out how to run a tractor on electric batteries. We have to have traditional energy, we have to have diesel fuel, we have to have all we have to have oil and gas. I don’t need to tell anybody in North Dakota that it can get 30 and 40 below in our state just like it can in yours. And guess what? The solar panels and the wind turbines don’t work when it’s that cold. It’s, it’s pretty tough to heat your house with wind and solar. We need traditional energy like this. And the United Nations has absolutely no business horning into banking and investment like this. And that’s why you’re seeing states like Montana push back,” said Knutsen.

KX News has also started reaching out to the banks — like Wells Fargo — and we are waiting to hear back.