BISMARCK, ND (KXNET) — Is there a clear conflict of interest when it comes to investing taxpayer dollars derived from fossil fuels into banks and money managers that are openly committed to eliminating fossil fuels altogether?

That is the question driving 19 states attorneys general to investigate a United Nations-backed group of anti-fossil fuel banks.

MT Attorney General Austin Knudsen: why he’s pushing back against ESG investing >

If these banks were to succeed, it would have immeasurable impacts on North Dakota’s Ag and energy industries – starving them of needed loans and investments.

KX News has been trying to get ahold of Attorney General Drew Wrigley and the State Investment Board for over a week to see if they are planning to join the multi-state investigation.

So far, no word back from the Attorney General’s office, and nine of the eleven members of the SIB have not gotten back to us either.

Only State Treasurer Thomas Beadle and Land Commissioner Joseph Heringing have said they are not in favor of investing taxpayer money into the Net-Zero Banking Alliance.

On the federal level, North Dakota U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer has emerged as a leader in the fight against ESG investing.

Cramer, a Senate Banking Committee member, introduced the Fair Access to Banking Act which would prevent discrimination by banks and financial service providers with respect to ESG criteria.

We asked Cramer what the State Investment Board should do about having our money invested in four Net-Zero Banking Alliance firms.

“Well, if I was king of the (State) Investment Board, they wouldn’t be. I guess that’s my personal view. I also don’t want to oversimplify how difficult it is to turn a ship like that around. And, I also don’t want to presume that there aren’t really good people working exactly toward that direction. I don’t speak for them. But no, I mean, I think it’s fairly common sense that we would not want to cut our nose despite our face. And that’s what we would be doing. In fact, what we ought to be doing is looking for more opportunities to invest that money right here in North Dakota,” explained U.S. Senator for North Dakota Kevin Cramer.

Cramer say he expects our state’s investments in anti-fossil fuel firms to be a top issue in the upcoming state legislative session.

Watch KX News’ Josh Meny’s full interview with Senator Cramer on his efforts to push back against ESG investing and the legislation he has introduced in the U.S. Senate.