NORTH DAKOTA (KXNET) — Since September, KX News has been reporting on a group of banks and money managers – some of which are hired by our State Investment Board to invest our tax dollars – who are now under investigation by the Attorneys General in 19 states.
The companies under investigation are members of the Net-Zero Banking Alliance, a United Nations-backed group that is part of a global campaign to phase out fossil fuels with the goal of preventing catastrophic climate change.
We asked Attorney General Drew Wrigley and every member of the State Investment Board if they support this multi-state investigation into firms that on one hand, take tax dollars from our oil and gas production, but on the other hand, oppose investing those tax dollars in the fossil fuel industry.
Getting a response from our elected and appointed officials about the investigation has been no easy task.
The questions are pretty simple. Will Attorney General Wrigley join this investigation launched by his fellow attorneys general in 19 states? And, do they agree that an international body like the United Nations should be setting lending and investing standards for oil and gas companies here in North Dakota?
Whether you’re concerned about climate change or not: this new form of banking criteria will greatly impact North Dakota as our top two industries, agriculture, and energy, are dependent on fossil fuels.
Because it will impact our state so much, you deserve answers from our elected officials, and so far they are not being responsive to you, the taxpayer.
Last week Attorney General Drew Wrigley held a press meeting to discuss budget priorities.
After the meeting closed, I approached Wrigley to see if he would discuss the investigation with me.
As seen in our interaction in the video, Wrigley told me to reach out to him early this Thanksgiving week.
In addition to reaching out to the office with several emails since September, I sent a text to Wrigley on Monday and I called him Tuesday. He has not gotten back to me yet.
“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,” explained MT Attorney General Austin Knudsen. “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,” Knudsen said.
We reached out to Lt. Governor Brent Sanford – who is the Chair of the State Investment Board – which is responsible for investing our tax dollars derived from oil and gas.
We wanted to talk with Sanford to see why the SIB has hired banks and money managers such as Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Macquarie Partners who are members of the Net Zero Banking Alliance. Are we stuck in these firms?
The Lt. Governor did not comment.
We did, however, receive responses from two of the 11 members of the State Investment Board – State Treasurer Thomas Beadle and Land Commissioner Joseph Heringer. Both of them expressed their opposition to the Net-Zero Banking Alliance and both support the multi-state investigation into these banks and money managers.
But where do our Attorney General and all the other State Investment Board members stand on this?
“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,” stated Senator Kevin Cramer.
Will our state elected officials respond to our requests?
More importantly, will they take a stance against these firms that are working to starve fossil fuel producers from getting loans and investments?
Or, is it a worthwhile sacrifice to begin cutting down on warming emissions?
Either way, we just want an answer — because it impacts millions of your tax dollars and has far-reaching implications for our state’s economy.
Our elected officials should strive to be in touch with the taxpayers, yet so far they have seemingly taken the strategy of refusing to answer.
KX News has reached out to the Net-Zero Banking Alliance and all four banks and so far they have not agreed to an interview.